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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 6, 2018

Last of Nine Defendants in Extensive Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy Pleads Guilty

Law Enforcement Recovered Handguns, Cash, and Ounces of Meth During Investigation

A Dubuque man who trafficked pounds of ice methamphetamine pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.  Samuel Oliver Taylor, III, age 41, of Dubuque, Iowa, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

Taylor was the last of nine defendants charged in the same criminal case convicted for their involvement in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine throughout Dubuque.  On January 24, 2018, Melissa Marie Petesch, age 30, of Dubuque, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On March 8, 2018, Jose Juan Ceja, age 25, of Bell Gardens, California, and Michael Scott Boen, II, age 26, of Petosi, Wisconsin, were convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  On May 21, 2018, Joshua Allen Carter, age 33, of Dubuque, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  On May 30, 2018, Keith Richard Ellis, age 35, of Dubuque, and Martel Elliot Fountain, Sr., age 28, of Dubuque, were convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  On August 1, 2018, Mauricio Eduardo Bayardo Chan, age 20, from Mexico, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On August 2, 2018, Brenda Lynn Harker, age 40, of Dubuque, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

The defendants’ plea agreements and evidence at previous court hearings establish that in February 2017, Taylor met Bayardo Chan in a hotel in Cedar Rapids, where Taylor purchased multiple ounces of ice methamphetamine from Bayardo Chan.  After this meeting, Bayardo Chan personally delivered several more ounces of ice methamphetamine to Taylor.  At the time, Taylor was living with Petesch in Petesch’s house on North Main Street in Dubuque.

Sometime in June 2017, Bayardo Chan met Taylor again and proposed that Bayardo Chan arrange for larger shipments of ice methamphetamine to be mailed to Taylor’s house.  Taylor agreed and Bayardo Chan directed Taylor to pay for some of the shipments by wiring money through Western Union.  Bayardo Chan instructed Taylor to wire the money to various people with addresses in Sinaloa, Mexico.  Taylor had Harker, Petesch, and others wire thousands of dollars in drug proceeds on his behalf to Mexico.

From June 2017 until November 2017, Bayardo Chan mailed pounds of ice methamphetamine in several packages to Taylor’s house, where Taylor sold the methamphetamine to various dealers and users throughout Dubuque.  Petesch assisted Taylor in selling the methamphetamine from her house.  Taylor sold ounces of methamphetamine at a time to Boen, Carter, Ellis, Fountain, and Harker, which they would then redistribute.  Periodically, Bayardo Chan and Ceja would meet Taylor at his residence to collect payments for the methamphetamine shipments.

On August 17, 2017, police investigators executed a search warrant at Carter’s house in Dubuque.  Inside Carter’s residence, investigators found $4,743 in cash from his methamphetamine sales.  Investigators also found approximately six ounces of ice methamphetamine that Carter was planning to sell. 

On November 10, 2017, police investigators executed a search warrant on Petesch’s house.  Investigators found $14,399 in cash from Taylor’s methamphetamine sales and two handguns that Taylor and Petesch were using to protect their methamphetamine proceeds.  Further, investigators found Taylor standing outside of a bathroom where they discovered methamphetamine dissolving in the toilet bowl.  Ultimately, investigators recovered over two ounces of ice methamphetamine from Petesch’s house.

On February 1, 2018, Ceja was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry border crossing between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico.  On March 20, 2018, Bayardo Chan was arrested in downtown New York City.

Taylor’s sentencing before Chief United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Taylor and all other defendants remain in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.  Taylor faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $10,750,000 fine, and at least 5 years’ supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Drew O. Inman and investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program of the United States Department of Justice, through a cooperative effort of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dubuque Drug Task Force, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Dubuque Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 18-CR-1002-LTS.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated August 7, 2018