DETROIT - A Chicago resident was sentenced Monday in Detroit federal court for conspiring to distribute and import into the United States, through the metropolitan Detroit area, millions of tablets of pseudoephedrine, knowing that those pills would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, specifically, "crystal meth." This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy; the case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Ali Salem, 30, of Chicago, Ill., was sentenced to 141 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen.
Information presented to the court at the time of Salem's plea in August 2007 revealed that between November 2002 and May 2003, Ali Salem, Shahin Judeh and several co-conspirators paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to co-conspirators in Montreal, Canada, to acquire more than 10 million pills of pseudoephedrine. They made significant efforts to smuggle the pills into the United States across the Windsor-Detroit border, and then transport them to locations in the western United States to manufacture methamphetamine. Plans of the conspiracy were revealed and thwarted through the cooperative investigative efforts of ICE, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Canadian Law Enforcement Authorities.
U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy said, "As this investigation amply shows, international cooperation can and does thwart high-volume purveyors of the precursor drugs used to make 'crystal meth.' Today's sentence should serve as a strong deterrent to those who would consider importing crystal meth or its precursor chemicals in the future. I commend the excellent work of ICE, DEA and our Canadian partners - thanks to them, our special initiative to stamp out meth distribution is working."
"The conviction and sentencing of Ali Salem serves a crippling blow to an organization that conspired to smuggle into the United States more than 10 million tablets of pseudoephedrine," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. "When manufactured into methamphetamine, this pseudoephedrine represented more than 1,840 kilograms [more than two tons] of methamphetamine worth more than $36 million on the street. This pseudoephedrine seizure will have a dramatic impact on the availability of methamphetamine on our city streets."
Co-Defendants Shahin Judeh and Enrique Sanchez (also known as Enrique Barajas) were extradited from abroad to prosecute this case; they have pleaded guilty to identical charges. Each is awaiting sentencing. Co-Defendant Alberto Flores, who was previously a fugitive, was apprehended in Kentucky on a separate offense, and is scheduled to appear on these charges later this month. Co-Defendants Mohammad Awad and Nasir Baste last year were each sentenced to 87 months and 84 months imprisonment, respectively
This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Allen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Gilmer-Hill, Eastern District of Michigan.