Largest cocaine supplier to Alaska sentenced to 16 years imprisonment
Infiltrated airport security to send over 250 kilograms of cocaine to Alaska from 2010 to 2014
Anchorage, Alaska-U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that on Friday, March 25, a Las Vegas man was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Sharon Gleason to serve 16 years in prison for supplying large quantities of cocaine to Alaska and Michigan over the past five years; he was also fined $40,000, and required to forfeit expensive vehicles and over $700,000 in drug proceeds.
Clarence Anthony Hatton, a/k/a “C-Money,” 47, of Las Vegas, previously pled guilty to conspiring with others to distribute cocaine, as well as to launder the proceeds of cocaine trafficking. As part of his guilty plea, Hatton admitted that he conspired to distribute over 50 kilograms of cocaine to both Alaska and Michigan over a three year period, and that he received payment in cash through mail and parcel services. Hatton, who lived in Las Vegas, would obtain large quantities of cocaine from California, where he was from. He then paid employees at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport to take the cocaine into the employee entrance at the airport so that it was not subjected to normal security. The employee would then meet with a traveler to Alaska (or Michigan) in the men’s bathroom in the secure area of the terminal and transfer the cocaine. Typically, ten kilograms were sent at a time, approximately twice a month.
According to Deputy Criminal Chief Frank Russo, who handled the sentencing hearing, the testimony at sentencing indicated that over 250 kilograms of cocaine were sent to Alaska in this manner, and over 100 kilograms of cocaine were sent to Michigan using the same scheme. The evidence submitted to the Court also showed that Hatton had been sending cocaine to Alaska for the past 20 years, and had amassed great wealth in doing so. Within the government’s sentencing memo, Russo pointed out that Hatton was dealing cocaine at the kilogram level back in 1996, and was identified as a source of supply in at least four other major cases prosecuted in Alaska. However, evidence was insufficient to charge Hatton until the current case, which proved what witnesses had been saying about Hatton all along: that he was the organizer of the most prolific cocaine trafficking network ever to be prosecuted in Alaska.
Russo stated that Hatton ran his drug organization as a business, thousands of miles removed from the human misery that his product was causing in Alaska. The sentencing memo alleged that Hatton built comfortable houses in Las Vegas, purchased expensive cars, was a high roller in casinos, and provided for his family on the profits that were mailed back to Las Vegas: “Prior to his incarceration, [Hatton] likely never thought about the fact that each individual twenty dollar bill in a postal box overflowing with them had a story of despair behind it.”
Hatton was required to forfeit the seized proceeds of his drug trafficking activity, over $620,000 in cash and a Mercedes Benz valued at over $80,000. Hatton forfeited an additional $88,700 in cash just prior to sentencing, and Judge Gleason imposed an additional $40,000 fine. Judge Gleason found that Hatton was the leader of the drug conspiracy, and cited the need to deter others from believing that they could profit from trafficking drugs in Alaska as one of the reasons for the sentence imposed.
United States Attorney Karen Loeffler cited the significance of the case from a public safety perspective, not only protecting Alaska’s residents from drug trafficking but also securing the airports: “This case demonstrated that there is a loophole in airport security when it comes to allowing employees unscreened access. It is a loophole that must be scrutinized by all airports.”
Hatton is the latest and most significant in a string of sentencing hearings related to this drug trafficking scheme. To date, the following individuals have been sentenced as part of this case:
Daren Cole:previously sentenced to 64 months in prison;
Michael Langdon: previously sentenced to 60 months in prison;
Antonio Beckwith:previously sentenced to 24 months in prison; and
Bryan Bledsoe, previously sentenced to 36 months in prison.
This case was 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), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). These agencies were assisted by the FBI Anchorage Safe Streets Task Force, the Anchorage Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Henderson Police Department, the North Las Vegas Police Department and the Clark County Department of Aviation.