Federal prosecutors on Friday charged 17 Kenai Peninsula residents for their alleged involvement in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation in Nevada and Alaska.
The task force involved the distribution of more than 6,000 tablets of Oxycodone and the laundering of more than $1.2 million, according Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Overall, 27 people were charged in the alleged conspiracy and the Alaska arrests were made on Wednesday and Thursday.
Twenty-five of the defendants are charged with money laundering conspiracy, and 14 of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone from July 2009 to October 2010.
The defendants are charged in two separate criminal complaints filed in Nevada. A federal magistrate judge in Las Vegas unsealed the criminal complaints on Friday.
The Alaska defendants are: Frankie Dupuis, 30, Soldotna; Cathleen Eugenia Renney, referred to in the complaint as Kathleen Haley, 54, Sterling; John Covich, 29, Kenai; Anthony Diaz, 20, Kenai; Cinthia Morgan Spoonts, 26, Soldotna; Shannon Walker, 49, Soldotna; Melissa Cue, 33, Kenai; Jon Horsley, 22, Soldotna; Harley Rice, 30, Soldotna; Jonathan Gattenby, 27, Soldotna; Jodaci Vogel, 31, Soldotna; Kevin Gonzales, 48, Soldotna; John Skoog, 29, Wasilla; Ernest Gallagher, 36, Kenai; BJ Griffith, 21, Anchor Point; Daniel Stevens Hall, 27, Kenai; Trevor Cunningham, 26, Soldotna; Alfred Jones, 47, Kenai and Shawn Newkirk, 43, Anchorage.
All Alaskan defendants are currently detained, and have detention hearings next week in Anchorage on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, except Shawn Newkirk, who was arrested in Las Vegas on Thursday, and had an initial appearance Friday in Las Vegas.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on the drug trafficking charge, and up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the money laundering charge.
The complaints state that beginning in approximately June 2009, Nicholas Ghafouria, 26 of Las Vegas, and another Las Vegas resident, Ki Yong Parker, used prescriptions in their names to acquire approximately 6,200 tablets of Oxycodone, which were distributed in Alaska.
Ghafouria also allegedly obtained Oxycodone through Las Vegas resident Demetha Jackson. The complaints allege that the other defendants worked for Ghafouria as money launderers and/or drug traffickers in Las Vegas and Soldotna, Kenai, Wasilla, Anchor Point, and Anchorage.
The Alaska defendants allegedly sold the Oxycodone pills in Alaska, and deposited the drug proceeds in bank accounts in the names of Ghafouria and several co-conspirators. The drug money was then withdrawn by co-conspirators in Las Vegas.
The complaint alleges that from July 24, 2009 through Oct. 2, 2010, more than $1.2 million in cash proceeds from the distribution of Oxycodone was deposited into nine Las Vegas-based bank accounts controlled by Ghafouria and his co-conspirators.
It is alleged that Ghafouria attempted to legitimize the money earned from the drug distribution business by operating a custom motorcycle and paint shop named Alley Rat Custom Cycles in Las Vegas. The complaint states that Oxycodone pills are delivered to Ghafouria at Alley Rat, and that Ghafouria uses persons (mules) to transport the pills from the business to Alaska via commercial airlines.
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