Two Co-Conspirators Sentenced in E. Idaho Drug Case
POCATELLO – Two more members of an Eastern Idaho methamphetamine trafficking organization were sentenced today to serve federal prison sentences, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. The defendants appeared before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.
- Samuel Nevarez-Ayon, 26, a Mexican national formerly living in Rexburg, was sentenced to 292 months in prison for his leadership role in the conspiracy. In addition, the Court ordered a $4,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and the forfeiture of $500,000. He pleaded guilty to the charge of continuing criminal enterprise on December 19, 2012.
- Nicolas Levi Olsen, 30, of Idaho Falls, was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Olsen was also ordered to pay a $500 fine, and a $100 special assessment. He pleaded guilty to an information on January 24, 2013.
Eight co-defendants were sentenced in March and April on related drug trafficking charges. Ricardo Garcia Lopez, of Idaho Falls, was sentenced to 235 months in prison; Alberto Abarca, of Idaho Falls, to 130 months; Rafael Ignacio Guerrero, a Mexican national, to 42 months; Antonio Javier Mendoza, of Shelley, Idaho, to 96 months; Fabiola Esmerelda Marin Castro, a Mexican national, to 36 months and ordered to forfeit $83,575 and two vehicles; and Daniel Quiroz, a Mexican national, to 78 months. Abel Garcia, of Idaho Falls, was sentenced to one month in prison for making a false statement to a bank. Ana Rosa Valdez-Ceja, of Shelley, was sentenced to two years’ probation for money laundering.
Three co-defendants from Idaho Falls are set for sentencing on September 10. Juan Ortiz, Jr., 28, and Isidoro David Herrera, 31, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine; Everado Tapia Torres, Jr., 31, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine.
The final defendant, Guadalupe Meraz, of Madera, California, is a fugitive.
According to the plea agreements, from June 2005 through January 2012, a group of individuals centered around Nevarez-Ayon entered into a conspiracy to possess and distribute in excess of 50 grams of actual methamphetamine in the Idaho Falls area. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Nevarez-Ayon admitted that he distributed methamphetamine to other individuals on at least three occasions during this same time period and directed activities of various co-defendants. In addition to distributing methamphetamine, several defendants laundered proceeds from the sale of the methamphetamine, and made false loan applications to local banks to further the laundering of money. During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants obtained in excess of $500,000 from the distribution of methamphetamine.
“Justice is well served by Nevarez-Ayon’s prison sentence of more than 24 years,” said Olson. “For years, he was the pivot point in wholesale methamphetamine trafficking in eastern Idaho. This successful investigation and prosecution demonstrate that federal, state and local law enforcement in Idaho will work together to remove those who bring this dangerously addictive drug to our communities.”
The charges are the result of a nine-month investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including the Idaho State Police, Bonneville County Sheriff's Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, Rexburg Police Department, Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Other federal agencies participating in the OCDETF program include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.
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.