Last of 11 Defendants Convicted for Role in Expansive Drug Trafficking and International Money Laundering Network
In Linked Conspiracies, Multiple Defendants Convicted of Money Laundering of Drug Proceeds, Drug Trafficking Conspiracy, and Drug Distribution by a Correctional Officer Within Anchorage Correctional Complex
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 07, 2012|
ANCHORAGE—Acting United States Attorney Kevin R. Feldis announced that on March 6, 2012, Daniel Isaac Meza, 37, a/k/a Wilber Daniel Meza, of Anchorage, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine, and more than one kilogram of heroin, as well as charges of international money laundering of drug trafficking proceeds. In his plea, Meza admitted to supplying illegal drugs to multiple members of the trafficking organization, who then redistributed to lower-level dealers and drug users. Meza was the last of 11 charged defendants to be convicted of involvement in the expansive drug trafficking network, whose members were responsible for trafficking large amounts of illegal narcotics in Alaska and laundering the proceeds by wire transfer to El Salvador, Mexico, and Colombia. Eight defendants have now been indicted and convicted of direct participation in Meza’s conspiracy, which was charged along with a related conspiracy involving Patrick Sherman, 48, a corrections officer at Anchorage Correctional Complex. Sherman was convicted in November 2010 of cooperating with Meza and co-conspirator Brandi Barnes, 28, to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, along with syringes, in Anchorage Correctional Complex. Barnes pled guilty to her role in both related conspiracies on March 2, 2012. Two defendants—James McAnulty, 34, and Robyn Ray, 29—were charged separately and pled guilty to charges relating to drug trafficking (McAulty) and money laundering (Ray). The other eight convicted drug defendants were Edwin Giovanni Enriquez, 35, a/k/a “Cat”; Billy Walter Fuller, 43; Brandy Leanne Barnes; Michael George Raab, 47; Debbie Beisinaiz, 43, all of Anchorage, Alaska; and Cori Jean Hillar, 41, of Valdez, Alaska.
Meza was originally arrested on June 30, 2010, after law enforcement established that he was collecting payments for cocaine previously supplied to other members of the conspiracy on that date. Law enforcement officers observed Meza meet with these individuals and accept what appeared to be large bundles of cash. A subsequent search of Meza’s home revealed more than 100 grams of heroin in his freezer, and a collection of Coleman coolers altered to contain secret compartments. In his guilty plea, Meza admitted that as part of the conspiracy, he obtained cocaine and heroin and then distributed these substances to buyers within the conspiracy, who then sold the narcotics in smaller amounts to retail drug dealers and drug users. Meza also admitted to using wire transfers to move drug profits from this drug trafficking enterprise to accounts and individuals in foreign nations, including El Salvador, Colombia, and Mexico. Meza admitted that the conspiracy in which he participated distributed over 50 grams of actual methamphetamine, more than five kilograms of a mixture and substance containing cocaine, and more than two kilograms of a mixture and substance containing heroin, all of which was known to and reasonably foreseeable to him. Meza also specifically admitted to his direct and personal possession of more than 100 grams of heroin on June 30, 2010.
Assistant United States Attorney Craig M. Warner, who handled the prosecution, indicated that several defendants have already been sentenced. Specifically, Michael Raab was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment on February 21, 2012 and Arthur Earl Wilson, Jr. was sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment on April 26, 2011. For the remaining defendants convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy, including Daniel Isaac Meza, AUSA Warner indicated that the law provides for a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for drug conspiracy, a $4,000,000 fine, and up to five years’ supervised release following service of a prison sentence. Warner also stated that for the defendants convicted of individual acts of drug distribution, the law provides penalties for each count of distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin ranging from a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release, to a maximum of life imprisonment, a $4,000,000 fine, and up to five years’ supervised release, depending on the specific amount and type of controlled substance involved in each count. Warner further indicated that Robyn Ray faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for money laundering conspiracy, and that Patrick Sherman faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and three years to life supervised release for his role in conspiring to distribute cocaine, heroin and marijuana within Anchorage Correctional Complex.
The convictions of Meza and the 10 other defendants in these related cases was the result of a multi-year OCDETF federal interagency investigation led by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, including DEA Task Force officers deputized from the Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department. Agents and officers of the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Palmer Police Department also participated in the OCDETF Task Force and made substantial contributions to the investigation.