Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

May 11, 2018

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Fugitive Marijuana Trafficker Sentenced To Prison

Drug Trafficker Brought to Justice after 32 Years on the Run

SAN FRANCISCO - Peyton Erwin Eidson was sentenced this morning to 36 months in prison for aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to distribute marijuana, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Special Agent in Charge Matthew Perlman of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service San Francisco Field Office, and Drug Enforcement (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. District Judge, following Eidson’s guilty plea to the charges on January 5, 2018.

According to his plea agreement, Eidson admitted he had been a part of a conspiracy to import almost 6,700 pounds of marijuana from Thailand in the mid-80s.  Eidson admitted that he went to Thailand to arrange for the load and that he tracked the distribution of those drugs once they made it to the United States.  Eidson also admitted he fled the United States in 1985, after he was arrested in connection with the drug offense, and that he obtained a passport in another person’s name to facilitate his flight.  He further admitted he renewed that passport in 1995 and 2005, and that he submitted false information to the State Department each time he did so.  Eidson eventually settled in Australia and lived there under his assumed identity for approximately 26 years, until agents from the Diplomatic Security Service discovered who he was.  Eidson was returned to the United States in 2017 to face drug charges filed against him in (based on the 1985 conduct) and charges arising out of his use of fraudulent documents to obtain U.S. passports.

“Peyton Eidson’s arrest and successful prosecution, 32 years later, should send a strong message to all fugitives of crime, and to the community, that the government will not give up just because time has passed,” said Acting United States Attorney Tse.  “Mr. Eidson was involved in an international smuggling ring responsible for transporting a large amount of drugs.  Today, he has finally answered for his crime,” Tse said.   

“Our tremendous success in finally closing this decades-old case could never have been possible if not for the diligent efforts of our Diplomatic Security Service colleagues overseas and the assistance and close cooperation of the Australian Federal Police,” said Special Agent in Charge Perlman of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

The investigation of Eidson’s participation in drug trafficking began in 1985 with an undercover operation involving special agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and deputies from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.  On August 8, 1985, DEA agents and sheriff’s deputies arrested Eidson and several others in Santa Rosa, Calif.  The next day, they seized about 2,000 of the 6,700 pounds of marijuana that Eidson and others had imported from Thailand.  Eidson fled the country shortly after that arrest, while his co-defendants were convicted of drug trafficking and importation charges.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. District Judge.  The defendant is in custody and will begin serving his sentence immediately. 

This case was investigated and prosecuted by member agencies of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

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