Reno Convenience Store Owner Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Distribution of Chemicals Used to Manufacture Methamphetamine
Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Tim Landrum, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for Nevada, and Byram Tichenor, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) for Nevada, announced that LOKMAN HOSSAIN BABU was sentenced today in federal court in Reno to seven years in prison for his convictions for money laundering and distributing chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge David W. Hagen.
In an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation known as "Operation Pill-Box", law enforcement investigators targeted businesses in northern Nevada that were selling large quantities of pseudoephedrine, a precursor chemical used to manufacture the illegal drug, methamphetamine, commonly known as speed or crank. Pseudoephedrine, is widely used in the production of methamphetamine because of its ready availability in over-the-counter cold and allergy products. Under federal law, pseudoephedrine is classified as a "List I Chemical" meaning that it is a chemical used in manufacturing controlled substances. Under both federal and Nevada law, it is illegal to possess or distribute pseudoephedrine except when packaged in small quantities for over-the-counter sales.
From September 1, 1998, until August 3, 2000, BABU repeatedly sold hundreds of cases of pseudoephedrine to customers knowing that the pseudoephedrine was to be used for the manufacture of methamphetamine. BABU sold the cases of pseudoephedrine from his three convenience stores in Reno and Sparks: B&B Mini-Mart, Reno Mini-Mart, and Sparks Mini-Mart. Each case of pseudoephedrine contained 144 bottles. Each bottle contained 60 to 120, 60 milligram tablets of pseudoephedrine.
Between March 1999 and February 2000, BABU sold cases of pseudoephedrine to a DEA undercover agent. On August 3, 2000, BABU was arrested and search warrants were executed at his residence and the three businesses. DEA agents seized approximately 9,800 grams of pseudoephedrine. IRS-CID agents also executed seizure warrants on BABU's bank accounts, vehicles, a hotel, and vacant lot. During the year of 1999, BABU laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars from unlawful sales of pseudoephedrine, making cash deposits into several personal bank accounts in dollar amounts less than $10,000 to avoid filing currency transaction reports with the banks.
In addition to the period of imprisonment, BABU was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and must forfeit a Cadillac Escalade, a small hotel, a vacant lot, and more than $159,000 in monies earned from his illegal chemical trafficking activities.
The prosecution and conviction of the defendant is the result of an extensive investigation by Special Agent Jerry Craig of the DEA and Special Agent Chris Wajda of IRS-CID. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Craig Denney.