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Eight people who worked together to distribute ice methamphetamine in Dubuque sentenced to federal prison


This news story was published on June 22, 2019.
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Federal courthouse, Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS – Eight people who, among other crimes, conspired to sell over three kilograms of ice methamphetamine in the Dubuque area have been sentenced cumulatively to more than 97 years in federal prison.

Keith Richard Ellis, age 36, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 160 months’ imprisonment and 8 years’ supervised release following his May 25, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

Joshua Allen Carter, age 33, from Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced to 124 month’s imprisonment and 5 years’ supervised release following his May 21, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

Michael Scott Boen, age 26, from Potosi, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment and 4 years’ supervised release following his July 11, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

Melissa Marie Petesch, age 30, from Hazel Green, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 132 months’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release following her June 12, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, conspiring to commit money laundering, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Brenda Lynn Harker, age 40, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment and 4 years’ supervised release following her August 2, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and conspiring to commit money laundering.

Jose Juan Ceja, age 25, from Bell Gardens, California, was sentenced to 156 months’ imprisonment and 5 years’ supervised release following his June 28, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

Mauricio Bayardo Chan, age 21, from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, was sentenced to 300 months’ imprisonment and 5 years’ supervised release following his August 1, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and conspiring to commit money laundering.

Samuel Oliver Taylor, III, age 41, from Dubuque, Iowa, was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment and 5 years’ supervised release following his August 6, 2018 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, conspiring to commit money laundering, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime

All eight defendants admitted they had conspired to distribute ice methamphetamine in the Dubuque area. Evidence presented at two of the sentencing hearings showed that Chan and Ceja, who represented themselves to be affiliated with the Sinaloa drug cartel, supplied ice methamphetamine from Mexico. Taylor acted as the primary local intermediary for the methamphetamine in Dubuque. At one point, Taylor provided Chan with a loaded firearm so Chan could “resolve a drug debt” with another individual. Shortly thereafter, Chan returned the firearm unloaded.

In October 2017, Ceja appeared at one of his co-conspirators’ residences looking to retrieve something from a prior shipment of methamphetamine. When the customer did not tell him the location of the methamphetamine, Ceja showed the customer videos of cartel members cutting off peoples’ hands and heads, and made threats against another member of the conspiracy. Chan had made similar threats in the past, showing a co-conspirator similar videos and stating that the only way out of dealing with him was “death or prison.”

All eight defendants were sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force, the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Drew Inman and Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham.

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