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Clackamas County Career Offender Sentenced to 21 Years in Federal Prison

July 09, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. - Samuel Caleb Mertz, 26, of Clackamas County, Oregon, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez to 262 months (21.8 years) in prison and five years of supervised release, for his leadership in a conspiracy responsible for distributing significant quantities of methamphetamine in Clackamas County.

In March 2011, Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF) officers initiated an investigation into a known drug dealer, defendant Samuel Mertz. At approximately 9 p.m. on the evening of March 31, 2011, Mertz and his girlfriend, co-defendant Jonalynn Gypsie Nelson, arrived at the Winco parking lot on SE 82nd Drive in Happy Valley, where a drug delivery was set to take place. Due to concerns that Mertz, a member of the Irish Pride gang, would be armed, Task Force officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop and removed Mertz and Nelson at gunpoint. During the subsequent search, officers found $3,271 on Mertz's person, two ounces of methamphetamine in Nelson's pocket, a loaded semiautomatic firearm inside the vehicle, and on the floorboard of the front passenger seat where Mertz had been sitting, officers seized a bag containing a virtual pharmacy of narcotics - one half ounce of heroin, approximately two ounces of methamphetamine, and Oxycontin pills.

After their arrest, Mertz and Nelson communicated through third parties in an attempt to have Ms. Nelson take responsibility for the firearm, as she had no prior felony convictions. Mertz engaged in recorded calls in which veiled threats regarding an informant's well-being were made, including a discussion about putting the informant "in the ground" prior to any anticipated trial testimony. Because of his post-arrest attempts to influence the testimony of others, Mertz earned a sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice.

On April 17, 2012, Judge Hernandez sentenced Ms. Nelson to 75 months in prison for her role in this drug-distribution scheme. At today's sentencing hearing, Judge Hernandez determined Mertz qualified as a career offender based on his prior felony convictions for distributing narcotics. As a result of his career offender status, Mertz was subject to increased sentencing exposure in the federal system.

"This more than 21-year sentence marks the culmination of a top-notch investigation by the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force, and a focused federal prosecution targeting the most dangerous type of repeat offenders: gun toting gang members who sell drugs," said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.

This case was investigated by Clackamas County Interagency Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Leah K. Bolstad and Special Assistant U. S. Attorney Steven T. Mygrant.

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