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Idaho drug ringleader sentenced to more than 24 years in prison

POCATELLO, Idaho – A Mexican national who led an Idaho-based methamphetamine trafficking ring was sentenced Thursday to 292 months in prison on charges stemming from a nine-month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) probe led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.

Samuel Nevarez-Ayon, 26, formerly of Rexburg, pleaded guilty last December. In addition to the prison term, Nevarez-Ayon will also have to pay a $4,000 fine and forfeit $500,000 in assets to the government.

According to plea agreements filed in the case, from June 2005 through January 2012, the ring, led by Nevarez-Ayon, conspired to possess and distribute in excess of 50 grams of actual methamphetamine in the Idaho Falls-area. Prosecutors say Nevarez-Aylon directed the illegal activities of various co-defendants. Several defendants also laundered drug proceeds; one method included making false loan applications to local banks. Over the course of the conspiracy, investigators believe the ring grossed more than $500,000 in drug proceeds.

A co-conspirator was also sentenced Thursday. Nicolas Levi Olsen, 30, of Idaho Falls, received 60 months in prison and was fined. He pleaded guilty in January. Eight co-defendants have already been sentenced this year. Three others are scheduled to be sentenced in September. The final defendant, Guadalupe Meraz, of Madera, Calif., is a fugitive.

Other OCDETF member agencies, including the Idaho State Police; the sheriff’s offices of Bonneville, Bingham, Fremont and Madison counties; the police departments of Idaho Falls and Rexburg; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), were also involved in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Idaho District.

The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.