News and Press Releases

Pharmaceutical Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Chemicals Used to Make Methamphetamine

October 29, 2002

Reno, 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 the Las Vegas Field Office, Byram Tichenor, Special Agent-in-Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) in Nevada, and Sheriff Jerry Keller of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), announce that MICHAEL UZAN, age 43, a resident of St. George, Utah, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, today to Conspiracy to Possess and Distribute Pseudoephedrine, violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 841 (c)(2), and Money Laundering, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957. UZAN also agreed to forfeit as proceeds of the conspiracy, over $1 million in seized funds, a sum of money totaling $5.5 million, a 2001 Porsche Boxster automobile, a 2002 Jaguar sedan automobile, and a house in St. George, Utah.

UZAN was one of eight individuals indicted in federal court in Las Vegas on October 10, 2001, and charged with various counts of conspiracy and distribution and possession of pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant used to manufacture methamphetamine. UZAN pleaded guilty pursuant to plea agreement. Six defendants remain scheduled for trial.

According to court documents, from approximately March 2000 through September 26, 2001, UZAN and seven other defendants conspired to possess and distribute pseudoephedrine, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. UZAN and his wife, one of the co-defendants, owned MDI Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Dillon, Montana, which shipped over 1700 cases of pseudoephedrine, mainly to convenience stores, small markets, smoke shops, and gift shops in Las Vegas, Utah, Colorado, and Michigan. Several destinations were false business fronts opened by members of the conspiracy to receive pseudoephedrine shipments. Members of the conspiracy in turn sold the pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine manufacturers, including undercover agents posing as manufacturers.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 24, 2003, before Chief U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro. Under federal statutes, UZAN faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, and up to 10 years in prison and a $1.8 million fine for the money laundering charge. The actual sentence, however, will be dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

UZAN has been in custody since his arrest in Dillon, Montana, in September 2001, and remains in custody pending sentencing.

The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the DEA and IRS-CI and LVMPD narcotics detectives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Ko.

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