Anchorage Couple Sentenced to Prison for Distributing Drugs and Money Laundering
ANCHORAGE – Two people were sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess to federal prison for distributing drugs and money laundering.
May Saelee, aka “The First Lady,” 47, was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. She pleaded guilty in August 2019 to drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. Saelee’s husband, Cher Vang, aka “The President,” 47, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. Vang pleaded guilty in July 2019 to drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. The couple was arrested in August 2018 as part of a months-long federal investigation into a drug ring operating out of Mountain View.
According to court documents, between August 2011 and 2018, Saelee and Vang distributed methamphetamine from their home and other locations in Anchorage. Through multiple drug sales during this seven-year period, they sold more than 306 grams of actual methamphetamine. The couple then used the proceeds of their drug sales to purchase various items including jewelry and personal property. Additionally, between March 2015 and August 2018, Saelee and Vang structured bank deposits totaling more than $150,000 into their accounts to avoid federal banking requirements and to conceal that the source of the money was from drug proceeds.
As part of the plea agreement, Saelee and Vang will forfeit to the United States any property derived from their illegal activities including but not limited to: jewelry, money, guns and personal property.
“With today’s sentencing, we have put an end to another drug trafficking ring responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine in Anchorage and the surrounding area,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson, District of Alaska. “These dangerous drugs are destructive poisons that threaten the health and safety of our communities. We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to ensure that drug traffickers are held responsible for the harm they cause.”
“Drug trafficking and money laundering cause immense harm to our communities,” said Bret Kressin, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Seattle Field Office. “IRS-CI will continue to use our expertise to investigate those who knowingly traffic these damaging substances and will continue to bring these individuals to justice.”
The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Alaska State Troopers (AST) investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephan Collins prosecuted the case.
This case is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.