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Press Release

Nebraska Man Sentenced to Fifteen Years in Federal Prison for Transporting Pcp and Codeine on Amtrak Train

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Rayvell Vann, 46, of Omaha, Neb., was sentenced this afternoon to 15 years months in prison followed by at least eight years of supervised release for his drug trafficking conviction, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Steve C. Yarbrough 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.  On March 13, 2013, a jury found him guilty on both counts of the indictment.

According to the evidence at trial, on April 9, 2012, a DEA special agent, who was conducting an interdiction investigation at the AmTrak station in Albuquerque, approached Vann, who was a passenger on a train 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 said 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, 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.  Vann initially claimed that the box contained a birthday gift for his aunt but could not provide his aunt’s birth date.  Later, Vann admitted that the box contained illegal drugs, codeine cough syrup and Oxycotin, a prescription painkiller.  The agent then arrested Vann and obtained a search warrant for the box.

When the box was opened, the agents 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 PCP. When the agents interviewed Vann, he expressed surprise that the box contained PCP; he admitted purchasing PCP, codeine and Oxycotin while in Los Angeles, but claimed to have sent the PCP to Omaha by an expedited courier service.            

This 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.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Walsh and Norman Cairns.

Updated January 26, 2015