Four Women Plead Guilty To Their Role In Drug Conspiracy
MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court, four women pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in support of a drug conspiracy in the Twin Ports’ area of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin. Taylor Kay Hanson, age 21; Talia Jackie Jaros, age 20; Danielle Ann Lamberton, age 24; and Elizabeth Rose Schlais, age 20, no known addresses, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The defendants, who were indicted on July 16, 2012, entered their plea before United States District Judge David S. Doty.
In their plea agreements, the four women admitted that between at least 2009 and August 2011, they conspired with others to commit money laundering. Their money laundering promoted a conspiracy that distributed controlled substances. The four women facilitated illegal prescription pill purchases by sending more than $30,000 in wire transfers to co-conspirators in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and elsewhere.
Twenty-five co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty to roles in the operation and have been sentenced. Following a four-day trial last month, a jury found one co-conspirator guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and three counts of distributing or aiding and abetting distribution of oxymorphone.
Authorities began investigating this group in 2010, after law enforcement noted an increase in Opana trafficking in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Opana is a prescription pain killer that contains oxymorphone, a controlled substance. Investigators conducted surveillance and dozens of controlled purchases before making any arrests. On September 27, 2011, law enforcement also executed search warrants at nine properties in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where authorities seized firearms, ammunition, approximately $30,000, as well as narcotics.
The defendants face a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, as well as possible fines and forfeitures, on one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Judge Doty will determine their sentences at future hearings, yet to be scheduled.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force, the Duluth Police Department, the Hermantown Police Department, the Superior, Wisconsin Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter.