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Press Release

Sylvia Canales-Pierson Sentenced In U.S. District Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on November 26, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, SYLVIA CANALES-PIERSON, a 50-year-old resident of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced to a term of:

  • ison: 24 months
  • ecial Assessment: $100
  • pervised Release: 5 years

CANALES-PIERSON was sentenced in connection with her guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara J. Elliott, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On October 28, 2011, during the execution of a Montana state search warrant, a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper and a Special Agent with the DEA seized $175,060 and approximately one half pound of methamphetamine from a concealed aftermarket compartment of a Toyota truck driven by CANALES-PIERSON. Donald Leroy Rickards was a passenger in the vehicle. The drugs were later tested by the DEA laboratory which indicated that they contained well over 50 grams of pure methamphetamine.

The agent detained CANALES-PIERSON and her sister, Maria Dolores Ramsdell, after they attempted to retrieve the truck from the Montana Highway Patrol. When interviewed, CANALES-PIERSON indicated that, under the direction of her niece she had been transporting bulk currency and/or methamphetamine about every two weeks since approximately October of 2010 between Kelso, Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Jose, California. CANALES-PIERSON stated that her niece had made arrangements on this most recent trip for her to take the Toyota truck. CANALES-PIERSON stated that her niece paid $7,000 on average to her for making each trip, that her boyfriend Rickards had traveled with her during a majority of the trips to keep her company and to share the driving, and that CANALES-PIERSON paid Rickards about $2,000 for taking the trips with her. CANALES-PIERSON stated that she had taken her first trip in October of 2010 with her sister, Ramsdell, who had made prior trips at CANALES-PIERSON's niece's direction from Kelso, Washington, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, then to San Jose, California, back to Minneapolis, and then back to Kelso.

When interviewed, Ramsdell provided statements that were consistent with CANALES-PIERSON's statement, confirming her own involvement in and knowledge of the transportation of methamphetamine and/or bulk currency at the direction of CANALES-PIERSON's niece.

Rickards also made a statement which was consistent with CANALES-PIERSON's statement and confirmed his involvement in and knowledge of the transportation of methamphetamine and/or bulk currency at the direction of the niece.

Ramsdell and Rickards pled guilty to federal charges.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the truth in sentencing guidelines mandate that CANALES-PIERSON will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, CANALES-PIERSON does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for good behavior. However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the High Intensity Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Updated January 14, 2015