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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Beckley man sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for role in California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Beckley man substantially involved in a California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Velarian Sylvester Carter, 37, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Carter admitted that from January 2015 to March 2016, he was involved in a drug conspiracy with multiple individuals that included the transportation and distribution of methamphetamine. He admitted that in January 2015, he conspired to have methamphetamine delivered from California to West Virginia. Carter also admitted to receiving methamphetamine from Daniel Ortiz-Rivera, a codefendant, until Ortiz-Rivera was arrested in Kansas in June 2015. Ortiz-Rivera’s arrest prompted Carter to begin purchasing drugs directly from Ortiz-Rivera’s supplier.

Carter further admitted that on March 21, 2016, a confidential informant working with law enforcement discussed the logistics of bringing drugs to Charleston with Carter, including cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin. That same day, law enforcement stopped Carter and seized suspected drugs and approximately $28,000 in cash from the vehicle. Carter additionally admitted that on March 24, 2016, he arranged with confidential informants for the pickup of two pounds of methamphetamine in exchange for $12,000 in Charleston. On March 25, 2016, Carter arrived at the pre-arranged location and parked near the vehicle he was told contained methamphetamine. After Carter’s arrival, law enforcement arrested him and seized $11,990 cash that he kept inside a Burger King bag.

This prosecution is the result of a multi-agency investigation that led to an eight-count indictment implicating several defendants, some of whom have already been sentenced to prison. Daniel Ortiz-Rivera, a Mexican national, was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Kelly Newcomb, of Nevada, and Danielle Dessaray Estrada, of Los Angeles, were both sentenced to a year and a day in prison for interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime. Marco Antonio Bojorquez-Rojas, a Mexican national residing in California, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime.

Several of the defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. A woman who was used as a mule to transport methamphetamine, Cara Linn Monasmith, of Nevada, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime. Additionally, as part of this conspiracy, Rafael Garcia Serrato, of Los Angeles, Cesar Garcia, also of Los Angeles, Miguel Tafolla-Montoya, a Mexican national, Brian Ashby, of Kanawha County, and Miguel Alejandro Robles-Ibarra, a Mexican national, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Charleston Police Department, and the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is in charge of these prosecutions. United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., imposed the sentence and is presiding over these cases.

These cases are being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 7, 2017