United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that Senior United States District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade sentenced Sebastian Daniel Riso on November 7, 2018 to serve a term of imprisonment of 160 months followed by 5 years of supervised release for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in violation of 21 USC § 841(a)(1). The defendant’s guilty plea was accepted by the Court on February 28, 2018.
Official court documents revealed that Riso was a large scale crystal methamphetamine (ICE) distributor who operated in Hollywood, California and Los Angeles, California and facilitated the shipments of bulk quantities of crystal methamphetamine to the Southern District of Alabama, Central District of California and the District of Hawaii.
In October 26, 2017, a cooperating informant (CI) provided information to the Mobile Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Mobile that he/she met Riso in Hawaii several years ago and has conducted several transactions involving Riso shipping narcotics to him/her in Mobile Alabama. The CI stated that Riso recently contacted the CI and agreed to ship a bulk amount of crystal methamphetamine to the CI in Mobile Alabama.
On October 28, 2017, the CI made several recorded calls to Riso to order methamphetamine. Following the calls, Riso shipped approximately one kilogram of methamphetamine to the CI via Federal Express.
On September 15, 2017, an officer for the Kauai, Hawaii Police Department (“KPD”) conducted a vehicle stop of a subject named Ecolono in Lihue, HI, based upon a warrant for Ecolono’s arrest. The vehicle was subsequently searched pursuant to a Hawaii state court search warrant, and was found to contain a ripped-open postal parcel in the rear seat containing approximately 14.2 grams of heroin, approximately 27.3 grams of methamphetamine and approximately 23 grams of fentanyl.
A bag in the cargo area of the vehicle was found to contain (inside multiple vacuum sealed bags) approximately 403.5 grams of heroin and approximately 452.9 grams of methamphetamine. Officers also found approximately $32,000 inside a Louis Vuitton women’s purse in the front seat of the car.
The investigation revealed that Riso was the source of supply for the controlled substances found in Ecolono’s vehicle. The investigation further revealed that Ecolono traveled to California in May of 2017 and stayed with Riso. On that visit, Ecolono agreed to take five pounds of methamphetamine (actual) back to Hawaii to sell. Ecolono agreed to pay $5,000 per pound, and she paid $8,000 up front, and agreed to pay the rest at a later date. Ecolono also agreed to sell heroin for Riso, and she received approximately 125 grams of heroin for $1,500. In payment, Ecolono sent Riso $16,000 in money orders from her sales of the narcotics.
Some time later in the summer of 2017, Ecolono received a parcel from Riso containing four pounds of methamphetamine and one pound of heroin. Ecolono sold the narcotics and sent cash back to Riso in California.
In August 2017, Riso informed Ecolono that a third parcel was on its way. When the parcel did not arrive on time, Riso instructed Ecolono to meet with “T” and receive methamphetamine from “T” to sell. Ecolono did so and received a pound of methamphetamine from “T”. The expected parcel containing one pound of methamphetamine came shortly thereafter, and Ecolono was instructed by Riso to mail $16,000 cash back to Riso.
The September parcel that was found in Ecolono’s vehicle was the fourth package of controlled substances received by her from Riso.
On October 31, 2017, members of the Los Angeles Police Department High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (LAPD-HIDTA) group conducted surveillance of Riso and observed Riso ship three separate packages, one shipped from Fed Ex and two shipped from UPS. All the packages were shipped to Hawaii. Agents contacted a DEA Task Force Officer (TFO) in Hawaii with the parcel information in order to intercept the packages.
On November 2, 2017, a Mobile DEA Agent and Task Force Officer conducted a joint search warrant with LAPD-HIDTA group during the execution of the federal arrest warrant for Riso issued from the Southern District of Alabama. During the search of Riso’s home in the Los Angeles area, agents recovered approximately 8.3 kilograms of methamphetamine, 650 grams of Heroin and 5.4 kilograms of high grade marijuana. Also on November 2, 2017, the DEA TFO in Hawaii intercepted one of the UPS packages in Hawaii that was shipped by Riso and it contained approximately 1000.5 grams of methamphetamine. On November 2, 2017, the DEA TFO intercepted the Fed Ex package in Hawaii that was shipped by Riso and it contained approximately 924.8 grams of methamphetamine.
On November 8, 2017, law enforcement intercepted the other UPS package in Hawaii that was shipped by Riso and it contained approximately 194.1 grams of methamphetamine
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Mobile, the DEA in Hawaii, the Mobile Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Kauai, Hawaii Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDEFT) Lead Attorney, Assistant United States Attorney George F. May for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.