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Narcotics
05/06/2019

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New York City man sentenced to nearly 3 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances

Caught in Colorado while heading to Nevada’s Burning Man Festival

DENVER — A New York City man was sentenced Monday for possession with intent to distribute five controlled substances, including ecstasy, psilocyn mushrooms, LSD, cocaine and ketamine. The defendant was on his way to the 2018 Burning Man Festival in Nevada to sell the drugs when he was stopped and arrested in Colorado.

This sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, District of Colorado, and Special Agent in Charge Steven Cagen, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Denver. This case was investigated by HSI, New York Police Department, and Colorado State Patrol.

Alexander Zelyakovsky, 46, was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison followed by three years on supervised release with the first six months in home detention. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 18, 2018.

According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on Aug. 25, 2018, Zelyakovsky was driving a truck containing several pounds of controlled substances and $26,745 in cash concealed in a compartment in the tailgate of the truck. He intended to distribute the controlled substances at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada and use the proceeds from the distribution of the controlled substances to purchase additional quantities of controlled substances for later distribution.

“This drug dealer had been making huge profits by selling illicit drugs as a multi-state broker,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven W. Cagen, HSI Denver. “Now he’s lost his profits, and he’s lost his freedom for 34 months.”

While Zelyakovsky drove through Colorado, a Colorado State Patrol trooper stopped him for a traffic infraction. During the course of this traffic stop, Zelyakovsky consented to a search of his truck. The trooper noted the tailgate of the truck was unusually heavy and looked behind a factory panel, discovering the controlled substances and concealed currency. Zelyakovsky was transporting 1125 grams of ecstasy, 376 grams of psilocyn mushrooms, 0.0173 grams of LSD, 229 grams of cocaine and 331 grams of ketamine.

“Thanks to an alert CSP officer, these drugs are off the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “Drug dealers should know that trying to pass through Colorado is risky business. We will catch them and we will prosecute them.”

In December 2017, Zelyakovsky was stopped by the New York Police Department for a traffic stop. During that stop, officers found a marijuana cigarette in the cup holder in the car. He was ordered out of the car; Zelyakovsky fled on foot, and he was caught after a short chase. Around that time officers saw that Zelyakovsky had a bag. A search of the bag revealed $11,000 in cash and vials of cocaine for future distribution. Eventually, Zelyakovsky was released from custody. For purposes of efficiency, the defendant waived venue and pleaded guilty to the New York offenses in Colorado.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten of the District of Kansas presided over the hearing.  Zelyakovsky was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Chaffin.

Zelyakovsky appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody and was remanded at its conclusion.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 05/07/2019