News and Press Releases

WASHOUGAL MAN IMPRISONED FOR SCHEMING TO DISTRIBUTE METHAMPHETAMINE CHEMICAL
Defendant Distributed Chemical Shipped by Korean Pharmacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2008

TRAVIS LEROY THOMAS, 41, of Washougal, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma by the Honorable Ronald B. Leighton to 54 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for scheming with others to distribute pseudoephedrine, a methamphetamine chemical precursor, in southwest Washington.

Other participants in the scheme included Craig Nelson, 49, of Tenino, Washington, sentenced to 60 months in prison; Leo Bunker, 48 of Washougal, Washington, sentenced to 54 months in prison; and Jodie Dolan, 34, of Auburn, Washington, sentenced to 40 months in prison.

According to records filed in the case, during November 2007, Nelson, a retired airline pilot, contracted with a South Korea pharmacy (“OpaTrade”) via the internet to receive 24 commercial- sized jars of pseudoephedrine for $6,000. Pseudoephedrine is a highly-regulated chemical commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine at hidden laboratories. It is a federal felony offense to import or possess such chemical intending it be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Nelson delivered two of the jars of pseudoephedrine to THOMAS. On November 11, 2007, THOMAS was stopped by the police for a traffic infraction in Cowlitz County and the jars were seized from his vehicle. THOMAS was arrested and released by local authorities. During early December 2007, a continuing investigation revealed THOMAS remained involved in the distribution of pseudoephedrine in Washougal. THOMAS was arrested on a federal indictment and has remained in custody since.

Through subsequent investigation, law enforcement was able to identify “OpaTrade” in Seoul, South Korea. On August 11, 2008, a search warrant was executed at “OpaTrade” by law enforcement authorities resulting in the seizure of 7,104 unopened commercial-sized jars of pseudoephedrine. “OpaTrade” was shut down by Korean authorities and its computers and business equipment were seized. Charges are proceeding against Korean nationals involved in the scheme.

This case is part of a continuing Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation focused upon the unlawful trafficking in pharmaceutical controlled chemicals and substances. The case was investigated by the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration, and South Korea National Police.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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