California Man Sentenced To 75 Months In Prison For Role In Large-Scale Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
Anchorage, Alaska-U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a California man has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason to serve 75 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to sell large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine to Alaska-based drug dealers.
Tomas Gutierrez Ayala of California previously pled guilty to conspiring with others to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. As part of his guilty plea, Ayala admitted that he was personally responsible for the distribution or attempted distribution of ten pounds of methamphetamine. Ayala further admitted that he had been involved in several other previous methamphetamine and cocaine sales. Upon being released from prison, Ayala will be on supervised release for five years.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie C. Courter, who prosecuted the case, the conspiracy began in February 2013 and continued until Ayala was indicted in October 2014. Ayala’s involvement came to the attention of law enforcement in July 2013 when ten pounds of methamphetamine was found in his garage in close proximity to mail bearing his name. Ayala had received the drugs from co-conspirators in Mexico and admitted intending to sell them to an Alaska-based co-conspirator who planned to mail them back to Anchorage for distribution. Law enforcement ultimately seized the methamphetamine before the deal could occur.
As part of his guilty plea, Ayala admitted that, during his involvement in the conspiracy, he had distributed both methamphetamine and cocaine to an Alaska-based co-conspirator on multiple occasions. At sentencing, the parties discussed the harm that methamphetamine causes in our community, noting that the ten pounds of methamphetamine seized from Ayala in July 2013 equated to more than 33,000 individual doses of the drug.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Gleason found it significant that Ayala had intended to sell the drugs not in his home state of California but instead chose to ensure their delivery to Alaska where profits are higher. She also raised concerns about the large quantity of methamphetamine at issue, calling Ayala’s crime a serious offense from which the public needs to be protected. In pronouncing sentence, Judge Gleason also emphasized the importance of handing down sentences that deter future criminal conduct.
The sentencing hearing is related to a string of indictments returned in late 2014 and early 2015 as part of ongoing efforts to dismantle and prosecute several large scale drug trafficking rings with ties to Alaska, California, Texas, Arizona, and Mexico. To date, the following individuals have been sentenced as part of these efforts:
Timothy Alex, an Anchorage drug distributor, previously sentenced to 108 months in prison;
Daniel Harris, an Anchorage drug distributor, previously sentenced to 135 months in prison;
Jose Ramon Canales, of Texas, previously sentenced to 70 months in prison for laundering drug money out of the United States and into Mexico;
Genaro Gutierrez-Reyes, of California, previously sentenced to 18 months in prison for laundering drug money out of the United States and into Mexico;
Jorge Armando Zaragoza-Soto, of Mexico, previously sentenced to 96 months in prison for drug trafficking; and
Geronimo Arellano Velarde, of California, previously sentenced to 120 months in prison for drug trafficking.
Several other defendants are set to be sentenced in the coming months for their roles in trafficking heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to Alaska and then transporting the cash proceeds of their trafficking activities back to Mexico.
This and the related cases were investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Loeffler praised the work of the law enforcement agencies involved, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Anchorage Police Department (APD), the Alaska State Troopers (AST), and the Anchorage Airport Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of Texas, the Eastern and Central Districts of California, and the District of Arizona, as well as federal agents in all three states.