News Release
Date: July 14, 2010
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

Anchorage Gang Member to Serve 17 Years in Prison

JUL 14 -- (Anchorage, AK) – DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Mark Thomas and the United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, Karen L. Loeffler announced on July 12, 2010, that Phonesavanh Vongthongdy was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment for his role in a violent, multi-defendant drug conspiracy.

According to information presented in court, Vongthongdy conspired to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine and over 500 grams of methamphetamine during the period of July 2005, through September 2008. Vongthongdy was an enforcer for a violent drug gang headed by Juan Manuel Mendiola, who was convicted by an Anchorage jury last month. Vonthongdy pled guilty to drug conspiracy and possessing a .38 caliber revolver on October 31, 2007, in furtherance of the drug conspiracy.

Vongthongdy was arrested on December 16, 2008. In his pocket, agents found an Anchorage Daily News Crime Stoppers article on the police requesting citizen assistance in locating Harold Graham, a co-defendant to Mendiola and Vongthongdy. This article contained Graham’s photograph. According to testimony at Mendiola’s trial, member of the drug gang were looking for Graham because they suspected him of cooperating with law enforcement, and wanted to shoot him. Graham was arrested by federal law enforcement before any threats could be carried out.

Prior to imposing sentence on Vongthongdy, Judge Beistline noted that Vongthongdy had been involved in the criminal justice system since he was 14-years-old, and told Vongthongdy that he was “more loyal to thugs and [his] gang affiliation than to the community.” According to court documents, Vongthongdy was an admitted member of the LOS (Little Oriental Soldiers) street gang.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Anchorage Police Department’s Drug Enforcement Unit and Special Assignment Unit, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.