MAR 17 (BOISE, Idaho) – Austin Serb, 20, Christopher Snyder, 24, and Andrew Colwell, 23, of Boise, Idaho, appeared in federal court on March 11, 2014, on a nine-count federal indictment charging them and eight others with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and heroin; distributing oxycodone, and distributing heroin.
“Opiate addiction is a dangerous path,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes. “Many young Americans start out abusing opiate based pain killers then switch to a cheaper and deadly alternative, heroin. This trend is alarming. These arrests represent a significant stride in Boise area law enforcement's concerted effort not only to combat this growing trend but to get ahead of it.”
In addition to Serb, Snyder, and Colwell, the defendants named in the federal indictment, returned by the grand jury sitting in Boise, are:
• Jeffery Manchester, 28, of Boise, Idaho
• Jordan Baptista, 19, of Boise, Idaho
• Travis Fraser, 19, of Boise, Idaho
• Kekai Wachi, 19, of Boise, Idaho
• Jared Hicks, 22, of Boise, Idaho
• Jordan Grainger, 24, of Meridian, Idaho
• Ellen McDaniel, 44, of Boise, Idaho
• James Acarregui, 29, of Boise, Idaho
A trial date has been set for May 6, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise. The remaining defendants have not yet made their initial appearances in court, and no dates have been set.
The indictment alleges that between September 1, 2012, and March 10, 2014, the defendants conspired together to distribute oxycodone and heroin. The indictment alleges that on various dates beginning on August 29, 2013, one or more of the defendants distributed oxycodone or heroin in the Idaho.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and heroin carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million, and at least three years of supervised release. Each charge of distribution of oxycodone and heroin is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million, and at least three years of supervised release. A criminal forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment also seeks to forfeit cash proceeds of $1 million as to all defendants.
The indictment marks the first large-scale prosecution involving investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad. The Tactical Diversion Squad, based in Boise, began operating in January of this year and includes law enforcement personnel from DEA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, the Boise Police Department, the Nampa Police Department, the Meridian Police Department and the Idaho State Police. According to Olson, the Tactical Diversion Squad will target prescription drug crime from all angles, including criminal distribution schemes, health care provider abuse and burglaries.
In addition to involving work by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, the indictment is the result of a joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The investigation was initiated by the Boise Police Department. Other federal agencies participating in the OCDETF program include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Marshals Service.
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.An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.