anchorage methamphetamine trafficker sentenced to life in prison
Anchorage, Alaska – United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that an Anchorage man was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage to life in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and attempted possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
On April 22, 2011, Ricky Alan Reese, 52, a resident of Anchorage, was sentenced to life in prison by Senior United States District Judge H. Russel Holland. Reese was convicted by a trial jury in February 2011. Judge Holland noted that the life sentence for Reese was mandated by statute given his history of prior drug-trafficking offenses and the quantity of methamphetamine involved in this case.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Craig M. Warner, who prosecuted the case, the evidence presented at trial established that Reese was apprehended after being identified by law enforcement as the intended recipient of 23 pounds of methamphetamine smuggled from Mexico to Alaska. This methamphetamine was delivered to Alaska as a single shipment concealed in a vehicle. The methamphetamine, which had a street value of between $1.2 million and $1.4 million on a per-ounce basis, was the largest Alaska-bound seizure by law enforcement in the state’s history.
According to evidence presented at trial by Mr. Warner, on March 29, 2009, investigators with DEA in Anchorage seized $12,000 from a vehicle being sent from Anchorage to Seattle. The investigation revealed that the vehicle, a 1990 Chevrolet pickup truck, had been shipped back and forth from Anchorage to Seattle on numerous occasions, despite having more than 300,000 miles on its odometer. The person shipping the vehicle was identified as Ronald Hall, who had prior drug trafficking convictions.
Investigators continued to follow the vehicle in Seattle, and the vehicle was driven south through Oregon and ended up in California. In California, investigators identified another vehicle associated with Hall, a 2005 Ford Explorer registered to Debja Steilen. Steilen was subsequently identified as a traveling companion of Hall’s who had also made trips to Anchorage. Investigators then watched Hall as he made round trips into Mexico for three days in a row - December 10, 11, and 12.
Surveillance indicated that Hall and Steilen drove the 2005 Ford Explorer from California to Fife, Washington, where they put the vehicle on a barge bound for Alaska. DEA Agents in SEATAC, Washington executed a search warrant on the vehicle and found approximately 23 pounds of methamphetamine in a trap door underneath the rear seat of the Explorer. Agents removed the methamphetamine and allowed the vehicle to continue on to Anchorage.
After the Ford Explorer arrived in Anchorage on December 28, the methamphetamine was replaced with fake drugs and the trap door in the vehicle was wired so as to alert agents when it was opened. That same day, Hall and Steilen flew from Long Beach, California to Anchorage, where they were picked up by Jared Lisenby. On December 29, Hall and Steilen picked up the vehicle from the shipping company and were followed by law enforcement back to Lisenby's residence, located at 4610 E. 102nd Avenue in Anchorage. There, agents and local police were alerted that the secret compartment had been opened and they entered the house. There, they found Hall, Steilen, and Lisenby. Lisenby was holding some of the fake methamphetamine.
That day, investigators received information from a confidential source that the methamphetamine was to be delivered to Ricky Reese, proprietor of Shooter's Billiards in Wasilla. The evidence at trial established that in a number of recorded telephone calls between the source and Reese, Reese agreed to meet with the source to take possession of the methamphetamine. Reese also indicated that he would bring approximately $100,000 in partial payment for the methamphetamine. Reese was taken into custody at the Costco on Bragaw Road in Anchorage after taking possession of the fake methamphetamine. $99,500 of bulk currency was seized. Evidence at trial established that this money was brought to the exchange by Reese to use as a down payment for the 23 pounds of methamphetamine.
Hall and Steilen were prosecuted in the Eastern District of Washington. Reese’s co-conspirator, Jared Lisenby, 31, of Anchorage, was sentenced on April 21, 2011, by Judge Holland to 72 months in prison for his role in the same offense. The investigation also revealed the Mexican source of the methamphetamine. Jason D. Hall, 37, formerly of Alaska, has been indicted for his role in supplying the methamphetamine from Mexico and is currently a fugitive.
The investigation leading to the prosecution of Reese and Lisenby was conducted by the DEA in both Seattle, Washington and Anchorage, Alaska. The Anchorage Police Department's Vice and Special Assignments Unit, the Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement and Major Offender's Unit, the FBI and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division assisted in the investigation.