News Release
February 12, 2008

Anchorage Man Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charges and Marijuana Importation Conspiracy

Feb 12 -- (Anchorage, AK) – DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Harvey Goehring and the Acting United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, Karen L. Loeffler, announced that Thomas P. Ranes, a resident of Anchorage, Alaska pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of marijuana importation conspiracy, one count of money laundering, and one count of international money laundering. The felony offenses are punishable by up to life imprisonment.

In connection with the guilty plea, Assistant United States Attorney Thomas C. Bradley advised the court that beginning on or about early 2003 and continuing through April 22, 2006, Ranes agreed with Thomas Cody, Joseph Bryant, Dennis Shine and other individuals, to facilitate the importation and distribution of Canadian marijuana. During the course of Ranes’ involvement, the group imported over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Ranes joined the group with the knowledge that the goal was to import and distribute marijuana. The goals of the organization to facilitate the importation and distribution of marijuana, as well as launder drug proceeds, were achieved by: (1) fabricating hidden compartments in commercial trucks and other vehicles; (2) arranging for the structuring of cash bank deposits involving the proceeds of the conspiracy; (3) arranging for the wire transfer of drug proceeds to the Ukraine in furtherance of money laundering; (4) fabricating employment payment records to conceal the organizations involvement in the drug conspiracy; and (5) driving from Canada into the United States (i.e., the State of Alaska) in vehicles in which marijuana was concealed.

During the time Ranes was involved in the conspiracy, he learned that in January 2003, Thomas Cody had arranged for an assault on an individual who was setting up a competing marijuana distribution network. The assault was committed by shooting the individual five times with a firearm. On May 31, 2005, Ranes became aware that co-defendant Dennis Shine manufactured and tested a silencer for a 9 millimeter Beretta firearm at the Ranes and Shine shop, for the purpose to kill co-conspirator Thomas Cody. In June 2007, Shine admitted to law enforcement that on June 1, 2005, he murdered Thomas Cody by lying in wait in Cody’s home and then killing him by shooting him in the head with the silencer-equipped Beretta pistol. At the time of Cody’s death, Ranes caused to be recovered approximately one million dollars in cash proceeds of marijuana trafficking belonging to Cody and Bryant that had been sent to Canada for eventual transfer to the Ukraine for investment on Cody and Bryant’s behalf. After Cody’s death, Ranes arranged for approximately one million dollars of that money to be returned to Alaska. Ranes then assumed a greater role in the conspiracy by organizing shipments and arranging deliveries of marijuana.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Ranes agreed to forfeit any interest he may have in 83 assets including numerous firearms, vehicles, real property and currency. The total value of the assets is several million dollars. Judge Beistline scheduled sentencing for April 24, 2008.

The investigation leading to the prosecution of Ranes was conducted jointly by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Alaska State Troopers, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ASAC Goehring noted the international scope of this Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) as well as its propensity for violence. ASAC Goehring commented that by working together Alaska law enforcement was able to dismantle this DTO with the end result being a safer community for everyone.