Source: US State Government of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – A status conference is set for Nov. 23, 2020, for nine individuals charged in what the indictment alleges were conspiracies to distribute methamphetamine and heroin in the Salt Lake Valley and Idaho. A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment earlier this month. The investigation, led by DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force and IRS Criminal Investigation, started in March 2020.
The lead defendant in the case is Toulon Mattox, 41, of Taylorsville, who was arrested after a federal judge signed a complaint alleging the conspiracies. According to the indictment, Mattox has a previous conviction for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances in federal court in Idaho. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and 60 months of supervised release in that case. He started his supervised release in October 2015 and moved to Utah. He filed a motion for early termination of his supervised release in November 2017, which was granted, according to a complaint filed in the case.
Mattox, according to the complaint, owned a restoration company that repairs and restores homes contaminated by methamphetamine. Mattox provided drugs to employees of his business, specifically methamphetamine, the complaint alleges.
Mattox is charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in the first count of the indictment. Also charged in that count are Lupe Gene Sandoval, 41, of West Valley City, Jerod B. Meyer, 34, of South Salt Lake City, Kelly Ann Cockrell, 43, of Salt Lake City, Michael Kermitt Nugent, 46, and James Walker Taylor, 46, both of Idaho Falls, Idaho, Fred James Schaffer, 56, of West Valley City, and Whitney Carter, 31, of Provo.
Mattox is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin in the second count of the indictment. Sandoval, Meyer, Cockrell and Jose Armenta-Sanchez, 30, a citizen of Mexico living in Salt Lake City, are also named in that count.
Mattox, Taylor, and Carter are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering in the third count of the indictment and Armenta-Sanchez is charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute in the final count of the indictment.
Acting on a tip, the DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force initiated an investigation of Mattox and others in March 2020 using court-authorized investigative tools. Information shows Mattox had a source for drugs who resided in California and that many of Mattox’s drug customers lived in Idaho. The investigation resulted in the charges in the federal indictment, including the conspiracies to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. The charges allege that between April 2019 and September 28, 2020, the defendants conspired to distribute of up to 4 pounds of heroin and up to 17 pounds of methamphetamine.
Mattox has been detained pending resolution of the case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Daphne A. Oberg found that although he did well on supervision after his previous drug conviction, just 18 months after Mattox was released from supervision early, he apparently became involved in drug trafficking behavior as the ringleader of the conspiracy. Judge Oberg found him to be an unmanageable risk of danger to the community.
Magistrate Judge Oberg found Cockrell poses an unmanageable risk of danger to the community as well as a risk of nonappearance based on the significant number of times she has failed to appear in previous criminal cases.
Meyer did not contest detention at his initial appearance and Carter was released on conditions of supervised release. Sandoval had an initial appearance last week and Magistrate Judge Oberg found he posed a danger to the community and a risk of non-appearance and ordered him detained pending resolution of the case. Nugent, who was arrested in Idaho, has an initial appearance Thursday before Magistrate Judge Oberg. Armenta-Sanchez is scheduled for an arraignment and detention hearing on Oct. 28, 2020. Taylor and Schaffer have not appeared on the charges.
The potential maximum penalty for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine is life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum. The potential maximum penalty for conspiracy to distribute heroin is 20 years in prison. Conspiracy to commit money laundering has a potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Possession of heroin with intent to distribute heroin carries a potential 40-year sentence with a five-year mandatory minimum.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the case. Members of the DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force and special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation.