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May 22, 2009

LAS VEGAS MAN CHARGED WITH IMPORTING TRANQUILIZERS FROM MEXICO TO ASSIST OTHERS IN COMMITTING SUICIDE ORDERED HELD WITHOUT BOND

(MCALLEN, Texas) – A Las Vegas man has been ordered detained in federal custody without bond pending further criminal proceedings on charges of importing tranquilizers from Mexico and possessing the controlled substance with the intent to distribute the drugs to persons seeking to commit suicide, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. 

Jeff George Ostfeld, 33, of Las Vegas, Nev., has been in federal custody since his arrest Monday, May 18, 2009, and will remain in federal custody. 

At today’s preliminary examination hearing, which began this morning before United States Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby, the United States presented its evidence to establish probable cause to believe that on May 18, 2009, Ostfeld imported 1,200 milliliters of pentobarbital, a Schedule II controlled substance, into the United States from Mexico. Ostfeld was arrested on May 18, 2009, after he entered the United States at the Port of Entry in Progresso, Texas, from Nuevo Progresso, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

A special agent of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) testified that the controlled substances were found in prefabricated containers (cans with screw on tops) that Ostfeld allegedly purchased to conceal the contraband. Four containers of animal tranquilizer (pentobarbital) were found. Additional bottles of the tranquilizer as well as other pills were also found within Ostfeld’s luggage. A total of 1,200 milliliters of pentobarbital (an animal tranquilizer) and the other drugs were seized.
 
In addition to the evidence presented in support of the current drug charges against Ostfeld, the United States also presented evidence to the court in support of its motion to detain Ostfled in federal custody without bond. The United States contended that Ostfeld is both a flight risk and a danger to the community. In support of it position, the United States presented the testimony tending to show that in addition to having no ties to the Rio Grande Valley area, being unemployed and having a less than stable lifestyle in Las Vegas, Ostfeld is under investigation for his alleged involvement in the assisted suicide of 29-year-old Jennifer Yolanda Malone of Oregon on May 18, 2008, at a hotel in Nuevo Progresso, Tamaulipas, Mexico. 

The investigation into the death of Jennifer Malone is continuing. The United States and its law enforcement counterparts in Mexico are cooperating to fully investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Malone.

After the hearing, the court found there was probable cause to support the pending charges against Ostfeld and that he was both a flight risk and a danger to himself and the community. With those findings, the court ruled there are no conditions which could reasonably assure either Ostfeld’s presence in future court proceeding nor protect the community; therefore, he has been ordered held in the custody of the United States Marshals Service without bond pending further criminal proceedings.

The crimes of importation of and possession with intent to distribute pentobarbital each carry a maximum punishment of 20 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine.    

The ongoing investigation into this matter is being conducted by ICE. Assistant United States Attorneys Leo J. Leo and Juan Alanis are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

     

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