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Twenty-seven Persons Charged in Oxycodone Distribution and Money Laundering Conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 5, 2010

Las Vegas, Nev. – Federal prosecutors today unsealed charges against 27 individuals for their alleged involvement in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation in Nevada and Alaska involving the distribution of over 6,000 tablets of Oxycodone and the laundering of over $1.2 million, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

"The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation's illegal drug supply," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "This OCDETF investigation is an excellent example of our ability to reach outside Nevada to cooperatively dismantle a lucrative multi-state drug trafficking operation."

Eight persons were arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, last Thursday, October 28, 2010, and 19 individuals were arrested in Alaska and Las Vegas yesterday and on Wednesday. Twenty-five of the defendants are charged with money laundering conspiracy, and 14 of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone from July 2009 to October 2010. The defendants are charged in two separate criminal complaints filed in the District of Nevada. The criminal complaints were unsealed today by a federal magistrate judge in Las Vegas.

The complaints allege that a Las Vegas-based drug trafficking organization led by Nicholas Ghafouria, of Las Vegas, is responsible for acquiring thousands of tablets of oxycodone in Las Vegas and distributing it in various cities in Alaska, and laundering the profits through Las Vegas bank accounts.

The complaints state that beginning in approximately June 2009, Ghafouria and another Las Vegas resident, Ki Yong Parker, used prescriptions in their names to acquire approximately 6,200 tablets of Oxycodone, which were distributed in Alaska. Ghafouria also allegedly obtained oxycodone through Las Vegas resident Demetha Jackson. The complaints allege that the other defendants worked for Ghafouria as money launderers and/or drug traffickers in Las Vegas and Soldotna, Kenai, Wasilla, Anchor Point, and Anchorage, Alaska. The Alaska defendants allegedly sold the oxycodone pills in Alaska, and deposited the drug proceeds in bank accounts in the names of Ghafouria and several co-conspirators. The drug proceeds were then withdrawn by co-conspirators in Las Vegas. The complaint alleges that from July 24, 2009, through October 2, 2010, over $1.2 million in cash proceeds from the distribution of oxycodone was deposited into nine Las Vegas-based bank accounts controlled by Ghafouria and his co-conspirators.

It is alleged that Ghafouria attempted to legitimize the money earned from the drug distribution business by operating a custom motorcycle and paint shop named Alley Rat Custom Cycles, located at 3965 E. Patrick Lane, in Las Vegas. The complaint states that oxycodone pills are delivered to Ghafouria at Alley Rat, and that Ghafouria uses persons (mules) to transport the pills from the business to Alaska via commercial airlines.

Below is a list of defendants, their ages and cities of residence, and initial hearing information.

Case No: 2:10-MJ-838-PAL (Las Vegas defendants)

  • Nicholas Ghafouria, 26
  • Scott Thompson, 47
  • Kimberly Crawford, 50
  • Ki Yong Parker, 55
  • Demetha Brown Jackson, 44
  • Jacob McLaughlin, 21
  • Taylor Hill, 25
  • Andrey Ariza, 25

Defendant Ghafouria is detained pending trial. All other Las Vegas defendants were released on bond. Preliminary hearing dates for all of them are set for November 15, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.

Case No: 2:10-MJ-846-PAL (Alaska defendants)

  • Frankie Dupuis, 30, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Cathleen Eugenia Renney, referred to in the complaint as Kathleen Haley,
  • 54, Sterling, Alaska
  • John Covich, 29, Kenai, Alaska
  • Anthony Diaz, 20, Kenai, Alaska
  • Cinthia Morgan Spoonts, 26, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Shannon Walker, 49, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Melissa Cue, 33, Kenai, Alaska
  • Jon Horsley, 22, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Harley Rice, 30, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Jonathan Gattenby, 27, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Jodaci Vogel, 31, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Kevin Gonzales, 48, Soldotna, Alaska
  • John Skoog, 29, Wasilla, Alaska
  • Ernest Gallagher, 36, Kenai, Alaska
  • BJ Griffith, 21, Anchor Point, Alaska
  • Daniel Stevens Hall, 27, Kenai, Alaska
  • Trevor Cunningham, 26, Soldotna, Alaska
  • Alfred Jones, 47, Kenai, Alaska
  • Shawn Newkirk, 43, Anchorage, Alaska

All Alaskan defendants are currently detained, and have detention hearings next week in Anchorage on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, except Shawn Newkirk, who was arrested in Las Vegas yesterday, and has an initial appearance today in Las Vegas, at 3:00 p.m.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on the drug trafficking charge, and up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the money laundering charge.

The case is being investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation in Las Vegas, the FBI in Las Vegas and Anchorage, DEA in Las Vegas and Anchorage, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Anchorage, Department of Homeland Security in Anchorage, Las Vegas OCDETF, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, United States Attorney's Office, District of Alaska, Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement, Alaska State Troopers (Soldotna SERT, Soldotna ABI, Anchor Point Troopers), Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Kenai Police Department, Anchorage, Kenai and Mat-Su Judicial Services, Kenai District Attorney's Office, Soldotna Police Department, Kenai Adult Probation, Alaska Department of Corrections, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Alaska National Guard. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick Walsh and Kishan Nair.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is a preliminary charging document and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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