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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts Nebraska Man on Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

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

Defendant Guilty of Transporting PCP and Codeine on AmTrak Train

ALBUQUERQUE – Shortly before noon today, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict against Rayvell Vann, 45, of Omaha, Neb., on drug trafficking charges after a two-day trial, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the DEA’s El Paso Field Division.

Vann was arrested in Albuquerque, N.M., on April 9, 2012, on drug trafficking charges in a criminal complaint. Vann subsequently was indicted and charged with (1) possession of more than 100 grams of phencyclidine (PCP) with intent to distribute, and (2) possession of codeine with intent to distribute.

According to the evidence at trial, on April 9, 2012, a DEA special agent, who was conducting an interdiction investigation at the AmTrak train station in Albuquerque, approached Vann, who was a passenger on a train and was traveling from Los Angeles, Calif., to Omaha. After identifying himself as a law enforcement officer, the agent requested and received Vann’s consent to talk to him. During the recorded conversation, Vann told the agent that he had traveled by plane to Los Angeles from Kansas City two weeks earlier and was returning from his travels.

Vann, who was traveling with one bag and a briefcase, agreed to let the agent search his bag which contained only a pink gift-wrapped box and a child’s dress despite Vann’s claim to have been in Los Angeles for two weeks. When the agent asked for permission to open the box, Vann said the box contained a birthday gift for his aunt but could not provide his aunt’s birth date. Shortly thereafter, while the conversation continued to be recorded, Vann admitted that the box contained illegal drugs, codeine cough syrup and “Ops” – short for Oxycotin, a prescription painkiller. The agent then arrested Vann and obtained a search warrant for the box.

When DEA agents opened the box, they quickly realized that it did not contain only codeine and painkillers because of the foam packaging inside the box and the pungent odor of ether that was released when they cut the foam. Recognizing the odor as PCP and finding 16 ounces of PCP in the box, the agents arranged for a bio-hazard expert to take possession of the bulk of the PCP after first taking a sample for testing.

After confirming that the PCP was appropriately handled, the agents interviewed Vann, who expressed surprise that the box contained PCP. Vann admitted purchasing PCP, codeine and Oxycotin while he was in Los Angeles, but claimed to have sent the PCP to Omaha by an expedited courier service. Vann told the agents he intended to sell the PCP, the codeine and Oxycotin in Omaha.

The jury deliberated about ninety minutes before returning a guilty verdict.

Vann has been in federal custody since his arrest on federal charges and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. Vann faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and a maximum of life in prison because he previously was convicted of a narcotics trafficking offense. Court records reflect that Vann was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in the State of Nebraska in 1989.

The case was investigated by the Interdiction Unit of the DEA’s Albuquerque office which focuses on disrupting the flow of narcotics, weapons, and the proceeds of illegal activities as they are smuggled into, or through, New Mexico in passenger buses, passenger trains, commercial vehicles and automobiles." Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Walsh and Norman Cairns are prosecuting the case for the government.

Updated January 26, 2015