Bellingham Man Sentenced In Drug And Money Laundering Conspiracy
Fairbanks, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced Friday, May 15, 2015 that Peter M. Thornton was sentenced to 104 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, following his pleas of guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition to his prison sentence, Thornton was ordered to forfeit $24,300 representing property involved in the drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies.
According to court documents, as early as 2008, Thornton was distributing heroin in Fairbanks to make money and support his own habit. By 2011, Thornton, operating from his residence in Bellingham, WA, conducted the conspiracy to transport and distribute heroin by means of couriers from Washington State to Fairbanks for distribution. Couriers would either fly the drugs carried on their person to Alaska, or Thornton would send drugs through the mails. Thornton purchased airline tickets for some of the conspirators to transport heroin to Alaska. Once in Alaska, the heroin would be redistributed by the co-conspirators.
Thornton instructed couriers and/or redistributors in Alaska to deposit the proceeds of the heroin sales into bank accounts controlled by him at various bank branches in Alaska. From September 2010 through December 2013, approximately $300,000 in cash was deposited into accounts controlled by Thornton.
The drugs were sometimes held at Thornton’s residence at Bellingham. A search conducted by law enforcement of Thornton’s Bellingham home found heroin and cash. As part of Thornton’s sentence the court ordered Thornton to forfeit the cash and a payment in substitution for his Bellingham home.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper of the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska. The case was investigated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force which includes the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the North Pole Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District Washington.