- Associated Press - Friday, June 27, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A drug organization moved large quantities of methamphetamine from Arizona for distribution in Wyoming before law enforcement arrested the ringleader last year, federal prosecutors charge.

A federal judge in Cheyenne this week unsealed the indictment that charges seven people from Wyoming and two from Arizona with conspiracy to possess and distribution of methamphetamine. Five defendants have pleaded guilty and charges are pending against the others.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal last week sentenced Philip Martin, 54, of Cheyenne, to nearly 25 years in prison following his guilty pleas to the drug charge and possession of a firearm while drug trafficking.

Authorities say they confiscated nearly 40 pounds of meth and cocaine from Martin last fall. He was arrested after law enforcement tracked him on his return trip from Arizona by monitoring the location of his cellphone, court records say.

Cheyenne lawyer Terry Harris represents Martin and declined comment.

Prosecutor T.J. Forwood also declined to comment.

The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release in December after Martin’s arrest. It stated the seizure of drugs from him was one of the largest in state history, with a street value of up to $2 million.

Gerry Luce, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said typical meth seizures in the Cheyenne area run from half a pound up to a pound and a half. “So it’s well above the norm of what we see in this area,” he said in December.

According to a statement filed in court last year by a DEA agent, law enforcement started tracking Martin after confidential informants said he kept multiple-pound quantities of methamphetamine in Mason jars in a gun safe in his home on Cheyenne’s east side and was selling it to others.

The indictment unsealed this week charges Martin received drugs from two other defendants in Arizona before he in turn transferred it to others in Cheyenne for redistribution in Wyoming.

Defendant Kendra M. Iverson of the Phoenix area, pleaded guilty in May and faces sentencing Aug. 7 before Freudenthal.

Defendant Michael T. “Bronco” Johnson, also of the Phoenix area, has not yet been brought to Wyoming to face the charge. Court records don’t indicate he has retained an attorney yet or responded to the charge against him.

All the other defendants are from Cheyenne.

- Freudenthal last week sentenced Michelle L. Puente, 52, to 135 months in prison.

- Defendant Ryan M. Bennett, 23, pleaded guilty earlier this month and faces sentencing Aug. 26 before Freudenthal.

- Defendant Michael A. Anderson, 35, pleaded guilty in May and faces sentencing Aug. 8.

The following defendants are set to stand trial Aug. 4 before Freudenthal in Cheyenne:

- Thomas F. Aflague, Jr., 35. An attempt to reach his lawyer, Mark C. Hardee of Cheyenne, for comment was unsuccessful on Friday.

- Joseph D. Stewart, 24. An attempt to reach his lawyer, Zenith S. Ward of Cheyenne, was unsuccessful on Friday.

- Cody D. Nace, 29. An attempt to reach his lawyer, J. James Learned of Laramie, was unsuccessful on Friday.

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