Kanawha County man pleads guilty for role in California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy
Defendant admits to obtaining substantial amounts of crystal methamphetamine and faces up to 40 years in federal prison
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Kanawha County man pleaded guilty today for his role in a California-to-West Virginia methamphetamine conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Brian Ashby, 38, entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Ashby admitted that in December 2015, he received approximately five pounds of crystal methamphetamine that he acquired from a source in California. Ashby further admitted that he distributed the methamphetamine in the Charleston area. On January 11, 2016, law enforcement executed a search warrant on Ashby’s property and located over 15 grams of crystal methamphetamine. Ashby also admitted that near the end of February 2016, he traveled to Louisville to obtain 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and paid approximately $40,000 to an individual for the drugs. Ashby additionally admitted that he attempted to obtain another 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in March 2016. Law enforcement later seized $70,000 in cash from Ashby that he intended to use in that drug deal.
Ashby faces at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on December 13, 2016.
This prosecution is the result of a multi-agency investigation that led to an eight-count indictment implicating 14 defendants, including Ashby. All of Ashby’s codefendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. As part of this conspiracy, Rafael Garcia Serrato, of Los Angeles, Cesar Garcia, also of Los Angeles, Daniel Ortiz-Rivera, a Mexican national, Velarian Sylvester Carter, of Beckley, and Miguel Tafolla-Montoya, a Mexican national, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Serrato and Garcia are scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2016. Ortiz-Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2016. Carter is scheduled to be sentenced on October 13, 2016. Tafolla-Montoya is scheduled to be sentenced on December 8, 2016. Also, as part of this conspiracy, Marco Antonio Bojorquez-Rojas, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime, and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 7, 2016. Additionally, three women who were used as mules to transport methamphetamine, Danielle Dessaray Estrada, of Los Angeles, Kelly Newcomb, of Nevada, and Cara Linn Monasmith, also of Nevada, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime. Estrada and Newcomb are scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2016. Monasmith is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2016.
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. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.
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.
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