Twenty-Three Pounds of Methamphetamine Destined for Alaska Seized as a Part of Multi-Jurisdictional Federal and State Investigation
Two Alaska Men and Two California Residents in Custody
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 31, 2009|
ANCHORAGE—United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today, December 31, 2009, that four individuals were arrested as a result of a result of a joint effort by federal and local law enforcement agencies in Alaska, Washington, and California. As a result of the investigation, approximately 23 pounds of Mexican methamphetamine were seized on the way to Anchorage. The amount seized is the largest known seizure of methamphetamine being sent to Alaska.
Ricky Reese, age 51, of Wasilla, is alleged to be the recipient of the 23 pounds of methamphetamine. Also arrested in Anchorage were Jared Lisenby, 29, of Anchorage; Ronald Hall, 78, of California; and Debja Steilen, 54, of California.
Affidavits filed in federal court allege the following:
On March 29, 2009, investigators with DEA in Anchorage seized $12,000 from a vehicle being sent from Anchorage to Seattle. The investigation revealed that the vehicle, a 1990 Chevrolet pickup truck, had been shipped back and forth from Anchorage to Seattle on numerous occasions, despite having more than 300,000 miles on its odometer. The person shipping the vehicle was identified as Ronald Hall, who had prior drug trafficking convictions.
Investigators continued to follow the vehicle in Seattle, and the vehicle was driven south to Oregon and ended up in California. In California, investigators identified another vehicle associated with Hall, a 2005 Ford Explorer registered to Debja Steilen. Steilen was subsequently identified as a traveling companion of Hall who had also made trips to Anchorage. Investigators then watched as Hall as he made round trips into Mexico for three days in a row—December 10, 11, and 12.
Surveillance indicated that Hall and Steilen drove the 2005 Ford Explorer from California to Fife, Washington, where they put the vehicle on a barge bound for Alaska. DEA agents in Seattle, Washington executed a search warrant on the vehicle and found approximately 23 pounds of methamphetamine in a trapped door underneath the rear seat of the Explorer. Agents removed the methamphetamine and allowed the vehicle to continue on to Anchorage.
After the Ford Explorer arrived in Anchorage, on December 28, the methamphetamine was replaced with fake drugs and the trapped door in the vehicle was wired so as to alert agents when it was opened. That same day, Hall and Steilen flew from Long Beach, California to Anchorage, where they were picked up by Jared Lisenby. On December 29, Hall and Steilen picked up the vehicle from the shipping company and were followed by law enforcement back to Lisenby's residence, located at 4610 E. 102nd Ave. in Anchorage. There, agents and local police were alerted that the secret compartment had been opened and they entered the house. There, they found Hall, Steilen, and Lisenby. Lisenby was holding some of the fake pounds of methamphetamine.
Agents obtained a search warrant to search the residence and Lisenby's vehicle. Over 16 firearms were recovered, including a Benelli semi-automatic shotgun, which was found adjacent to a plastic tub containing approximately four pounds of marijuana. There were multiple service rifles, body armor, and approximately 3000 rounds of ammunition, and other drug paraphernalia.
That day, investigators received information from a confidential source that the methamphetamine was to be delivered to Ricky Reese, proprietor of Shooter's Billiards in Wasilla. After a number of telephone calls between the source and Reese, Reese agreed to meet with the source to take possession of the methamphetamine. Reese also indicated that he would bring approximately $100,000 in partial payment for the methamphetamine. Reese was taken into custody at the Costco on Bragaw Rd. in Anchorage after taking possession of the fake methamphetamine. A large amount of bulk currency was seized, which has yet to be counted.
Hall and Steilen are charged in federal court in Tacoma, Washington with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Reese and Lisenby are charged in federal court in Anchorage with attempting to possess 500 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Both charges carry maximum penalties that include a minimum of 10 years in prison and maximum of life in prison, a $4 million fine, and at least five years of supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA in Seattle, Washington. and Anchorage, Alaska and Port of Seattle Police Department. The Anchorage Police Department's Vice and Special Assignments Unit, the Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement and Major Offender's Unit, the FBI and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division assisted in the investigation. The cases are being handled by the United States Attorney's Offices for the District of Alaska and the Western District of Washington.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.