Skip to main content
Press Release

Members Of Drug Trafficking Organization Face Federal Indictment For Distribution Of Marijuana In Utah

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

            SALT LAKE CITY – An alleged drug trafficking organization that sources say cultivated and acquired large amounts of marijuana in California for distribution in Utah since at least 2010 is under federal indictment this week in Salt Lake City.  Using marijuana cultivated or acquired from other growers in California, the organization has been responsible for 100 pounds of marijuana distribution in Utah each month, court filings say.  

            An indictment returned Wednesday afternoon, following an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, charges Collin Drexel Armstrong, age 29, address unknown; Zachary Fitts Hoppe, age 31; Christopher Trey Benson, age 25; Robert Daniel Benson, age 54; and Deborah Ellis Benson aka Trinity Benson, age 54, all of Salt Lake City; and Jared Bryce Roth, age 33, address unknown, with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  All six defendants are charged in the conspiracy count of the indictment.  Armstrong and the Bensons are charged with possession with intent to distribute. Armstrong, Hoppe, and Christopher Trey, Robert Daniel, and Deborah Ellis Benson are charged in the money laundering count.

            According to a complaint filed in the case, prosecutors and investigators obtained information about the alleged drug trafficking organization through another investigation.  For several years, according to the complaint, large amounts of marijuana were cultivated or acquired in California and transported to Utah for distribution.  The indictment alleges the conspiracy to distribute marijuana started no later than Jan. 1, 2010, and continued through at least Sept. 23, 2015.

            The indictment also includes a notice of intent by federal prosecutors to seek criminal forfeiture $101,000 in currency seized from three defendants in the case; a 1968 Chevy Camaro; and six parcels of real property, constituting about 300 acres, in Laytonville, California.

            Armstrong is in custody in California. All other defendants in the case were arrested on a complaint filed on Sept. 14 and have been released on conditions.

            The maximum potential penalty for charges in the case is life in prison and a $5 million fine with a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.

            Indictments are not findings of guilt.  Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

            The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Utah and investigated by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the DEA.

Updated October 11, 2015

Drug Trafficking