Federal prosecutors have leveled charges against 27 individuals for their alleged involvement in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation in Nevada and Alaska involving the distribution of over 6,000 tablets of Oxycodone and the laundering of over $1.2 million, according to Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Eight persons were arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 28, 2010, and 19 individuals were arrested in Alaska and Las Vegas immediately afterwards. Twenty-five of the defendants are charged with money laundering conspiracy, and 14 of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone from July 2009 to October 2010. The defendants are charged in two separate criminal complaints filed in the District of Nevada.
Federal prosecutors say Nicholas Ghafouria, 26, of Las Vegas, is the ringleader of a trafficking operation that got 6,000 tablets of oxycodone using bogus prescriptions in Las Vegas, then sent them for sale in Alaska. He is also employed at Alley Rat Custom Cycles, where prosecutors say he used his position to launder the drug money.
Federal officials believe that sometime beginning in June 2009, Ghafouria and another Las Vegas resident, Ki Yong Parker, used prescriptions in their names to acquire approximately 6,200 tablets of Oxycodone, which were distributed in Alaska. Ghafouria also allegedly obtained oxycodone through Las Vegas resident Demetha Jackson. The complaints allege that the other defendants worked for Ghafouria as money launderers and/or drug traffickers in Las Vegas and Soldotna, Kenai, Wasilla, Anchor Point, and Anchorage, Alaska. The Alaska defendants allegedly sold the oxycodone pills in Alaska, and deposited the drug proceeds in bank accounts in the names of Ghafouria and several co-conspirators. The drug proceeds were then withdrawn by co-conspirators in Las Vegas. The complaint alleges that from July 24, 2009, through October 2, 2010, over $1.2 million in cash proceeds from the distribution of oxycodone was deposited into nine Las Vegas-based bank accounts controlled by Ghafouria and his co-conspirators.
It is alleged that Ghafouria attempted to legitimize the money earned from the drug distribution business by his involvement in a custom motorcycle and paint shop named Alley Rat Custom Cycles, located at 3965 E. Patrick Lane, in Las Vegas. The complaint states that oxycodone pills are delivered to Ghafouria at Alley Rat, and that Ghafouria used persons (mules) to transport the pills from the business to Alaska via commercial airlines.
(*Edited 12:19 pm est 11/10/2010 to include quote from Troy Powell and information from Las Vegas Business license division and a link to the Federal indictment)
According to records obtained by USRiderNews, Alley Rat Custom Cycles first obtained a business license in May of 2005. Listed on that license is William T. Powell and James B. Ritter. That business is listed as closed and in May of 2010, a new license was issued to Troy Powell and Nicholas Ghafouria.
In an interview with local ABC news affiliate Channel 13, Powell stated that Ghafouria had no ownership in the business other than as an employee. “We run a legitimate business,” Powell says. “We’ve been here for ten years. We had no clue. This has nothing to do with us. I guess everyone can hire a bad apple.”
“I’m a painter, and I needed people to help me run the office,” Troy says. “We were looking at partnership, but nothing was finalized.