TAMPA, FL –Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Robert E. O'Neill, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announced that the Honorable Elizabeth E. Kovachevich, United States District Judge sentenced Jabulani Bendar Seay to a term of 210 months and Gwendolyn Shank to a term of 108 months in federal prison. Seay, 34, and Shank, 54, both of Tampa, were convicted for knowingly and willfully conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana; and conspiring to launder drug proceeds by: (1) knowingly conducting and attempting to conduct financial transactions, with monies earned from drug trafficking; (2) knowingly conducting and attempting to conduct financial transactions with drug proceeds in a manner designed to conceal the fact that the funds were drug proceeds; and (3) knowingly engaging in and attempting to engage in financial transactions with drug proceeds of more than $10,000.
According to court documents, Seay and Shank were knowing and willing participants in a nationwide drug trafficking and money laundering organization led by co-defendants Victor and Jorge Yanez-Gutierrez (the "Yanez-Gutierrez DTO"). The Yanez-Gutierrez DTO shipped cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana from California to locations throughout the United States, including the Middle District of Florida. The drugs were shipped via Federal Express, United Parcel Service, and the United States Postal Service. Drugs were also concealed inside automobiles and shipped via car-haulers.
Seay received packages of cocaine at various times in the Middle District of Florida, distributed the narcotics, and then arranged for drug proceeds to be returned to California. Seay distributed the cocaine to lower-level drug distributors in Tampa, St. Petersburg and elsewhere, who in turn provided him with drug proceeds, some of which were sent back to California via money couriers, wire transfers, and bank deposits.
On September 15, 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents seized approximately $120,000 in drug proceeds from Shank, at the Tampa International Airport. The money constituted proceeds from the sale of drugs in the Middle District of Florida. Shank was attempting to transport the money back to the leaders of the Yanez-Gutierrez DTO in California.
This case was investigated by the DEA, HSI, and other federal, state, and local agencies as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Investigation.