Oregon Man Sentenced in Magic Valley “Spice” Case
Defendant and Four Others Indicted in 2012 in Nationwide Law Enforcement Action
POCATELLO – Joshua P. Becker, 33, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Pocatello to 48 months in prison for conspiracy to launder money, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. District Judge Brian Ted Stewart of the District of Utah also ordered Becker to serve three years of supervised release, pay a $500 fine, and forfeit assets involved in the criminal activity. Becker pleaded guilty to the charge on May 30, 2013.
In October 2013, co-defendants Gary E. Nagel, 46, and Joshua Cserepes, 27, of Twin Falls, Idaho, and Shyloh Becker, 29, of Portland, Oregon, were each sentenced to 36 months’ probation and fined $500 for related charges, including possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue, conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia, and aiding and abetting in a monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity, respectively.
Co-defendant Allen W. Nagel, 44, of Twin Falls, is scheduled to be sentenced on January 3, 2014, before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Pocatello. He pleaded guilty in June 2013, to conspiracy to launder money.
According to court documents, between March 1, 2011, and June 25, 2012, Allen Nagel owned and operated A & J Distribution with other individuals, including co-defendant Joshua Becker. During this time, A & J Distribution distributed brands of smokeable material for further sale, commonly referred to as “spice,” under the “Hayze” label. This material contained 5-:fluoro-RR-144 (XLR11), a Schedule I controlled substance analogue, which Allen Nagel admitted he knew was intended for human consumption. Nagel and Becker received money from the sale of the material and engaged in monetary transactions using the funds derived from the illegal sales. The transactions, some in excess of $10,000, included transfers, withdrawals, and deposits through a Twin Falls bank.
Fourteen search warrants were executed in July 2012 by law enforcement agencies at 11 locations in Twin Falls County, and three locations in Tigard, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. The warrants were related to a nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of dangerous and deadly drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, “spice,” incense, or plant food, which are prohibited under the federal controlled substance analogue statute. Operation Log Jam targeted every level of the synthetic drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, in more than 80 U.S. cities.
The joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), is led by the Drug Enforcement Administration in conjunction with Twin Falls City Police Department, Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Idaho State Police, Ada County Sheriff's Office, Nampa City Police Department, Meridian City Police Department, Gooding County Sheriff's Office, Cassia County Sheriff's Office, and Minidoka County Sheriff's Office.
The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.