Six Plead Guilty as Feds Bust Mexico-to-Wyoming Meth Pipeline
Six people have pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges for their roles involvement in methamphetamine ring which moved at least 70-80 pounds of the drug from Mexico to Wyoming via Colorado.
An indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Wyoming names Ivan Thomas Gorzalka, Tony Vincent Apodaca, Matthew Aaron Cook, Glenn William Getter, Vincent Lee Greenough and Kenneth Thomas Minow as defendants.
The complaint in the case claims that since 2006, agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation received information that Gorzalka was involved in meth distribution in Sheridan County.
Since 2007, Apodaca – also known as “T” – has been Gorzalka’s source of methamphetamine, charging papers say. Gorzalka and his then-girlfriend would frequently drive down to Denver, where Apodaca lived, to pick up meth. That relationship continued until Gorzalka and his then-girlfriend had a son in 2008, at which point Gorzalka scaled back his alleged distribution of meth.
Apodaca allegedly continued to supply Gorzalka from 2010 through this year. Gorzalka typically made a trip to Colorado each month, purchasing six to 10 ounces of meth at a time from Apodaca to the tune of $1,350 per ounce.
In 2014, Gorzalka allegedly started buying one-pound quantities of meth from Apodaca, purchasing roughly 10 pounds each year.
The meth, according to federal court documents, came from Mexico. Apodaca’s supplier, a former Denver resident, lives in Mexico and would regularly meet with Apodaca in Cabo San Lucas.
That supplier’s father reportedly transports money to Mexico from Denver and, in return, the supplier moves meth hidden inside vehicle parts.
Apodaca allegedly used the garage of his home in Wheatridge, Colo., as a storage facility for the meth he sold to Gorzalka. Apodaca usually kept the meth in the saddlebags of his motorcycles, court documents say.
Earlier this year, on Feb. 2, a confidential source told agents that Gorzalka was going to going to receive money via wire transfer from one of his suspected distributors. At Gorzalka’s request, the money was being sent in his girlfriend’s name. Agents saw the girlfriend arrive at the Sheridan Walmart to collect the money wire at about 6:20 p.m. that day.
On Feb. 18, the same confidential source told DCI agents that Gorzalka would be traveling from Sheridan to Casper the next day to sell his snowmobile. After the transaction, Gorzalka was going to meet up with Apodaca.
Based on that information, DCI agents set up unspecified surveillance measures to monitor Gorzalka’s activities.
Agents allegedly saw Gorzalka and his girlfriend leave Sheridan in Gorzalka’s car. As the pair headed east on I-90, agents allegedly saw one of Gorzalka’s known associates, Troy Thompson, headed the same direction in a pickup pulling a trailer loaded with a snowmobile.
Agents followed all three of them to a hotel in Casper, where they sold the snow machine.
That evening, the same confidential source told agents that Gorzalka would be meeting with Apodaca either later that night or the following day.
On Feb. 20, Gorzalka was seen headed southbound on I-25. At about the same time, agents also learned that Apodaca was in Loveland, Colo., headed northbound on I-25.
Gorzalka, his girlfriend and Thompson met Apodaca at the Los Dominguez restaurant in Wheatland later that day. In the parking lot, Gorzalka allegedly took a pound of meth from Apodaca and put in the back of Thompson’s truck. Sometime later, Apodaca, Gorzalka and his girlfriend returned to the parking lot, where Gorzalka allegedly gave Apodaca $4,000 in cash.
Gorzalka reportedly told Apodaca that he would send his girlfriend down to Denver with more money in less than a week, as Gorzalka was not allowed to leave the state.
After the meeting, Apodaca headed back to Colorado. Thompson’s pickup left the restaurant and was later found at a residence east of Wheatland on Antelope Gap Road, in the Chugcreek area.
Agents then saw Gorzalka’s car in the same rural housing area where Thompson’s truck had been seen.
Later in the day, Gorzalka and his girlfriend were seen headed northbound on I-25 toward Casper. DCI coordinated with the Wyoming Highway Patrol to have Gorzalka’s vehicle stopped.
Gorzalka and his girlfriend were put into investigative detention while a drug dog was brought to the scene. The dog alerted to the presence of drugs in the car, where troopers found two and a half grams of meth in the girlfriend’s purse.
Troopers also believed Gorzalka appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance. Both he and his girlfriend were arrested.
Meanwhile, agents in Wheatland continued to watch the home where Thompson’s pickup was parked.
Agents spoke with Thompson’s step-father, who was at the residence. He reportedly said he let Thompson leave in his other pickup about half an hour prior.
DCI again coordinated with state troopers to stop the truck, which was headed northbound, on I-25 near mile marker 155. A drug dog alerted, and a search of the truck allegedly turned up four and a half ounces of meth hidden under the cup holder in the center console. Thompson was arrested and booked into the Converse County Detention Center.
That same day, a second confidential source told agents that there was much more meth to be found in Thompson’s pickup, which was still parked at the home in Wheatland.
A search of the truck on Feb. 21 revealed about 12.5 ounces of meth, exactly where the second confidential source said it would be.
That source allegedly told agents that Thompson was hauling meth for Gorzalka, and Gorzalka wanted Thompson to leave most of the meth in Wheatland. Gorzalka had allegedly told Thompson that at a later date, he would tell Thompson when to move the meth to Sheridan, at which time Thompson would await further instructions from Gorzalka.
The second source told agents that Gorzalka didn’t want to risk moving the meth himself, so he employed Thompson to do it for him.
On Feb. 22, a third confidential source told agents that Gorzalka and Apodaca had previously agreed to meet in Wheatland so Gorzalka could buy one pound of meth for $4,000. The source added that Thompson was to take the meth to Sheridan so Gorzalka could ultimately sell it to people in Sheridan and Montana.
The third source also said Gorzalka planned to use the profit to pay a lawyer to help him with a previous arrest, then he intended to stop dealing for a while.
That source further estimated Gorzalka had obtained and sold 70-80 pounds of meth from February 2016 to February 2017. The source said Gorzalka’s girlfriend would frequently travel to Wheatridge, Colo. with Gorzalka while he bought meth, and she would help count money and weigh the meth once back in Sheridan.
The third source also claimed to have personal knowledge of no less than 11 total trips by Gorzalka to Apodaca’s home in Wheatridge. On nine of those trips, Gorzalka bought five pounds of meth each time; on two of those trips, he allegedly bought 10 pounds of meth each time.
Apodaca was arrested at his place of work in April. His GMC Sierra was seized, and officers got his girlfriend's consent to search his home in Wheatridge, Colo.
Inside the saddlebags of two Harley-Davidson motorcycles, officers found $13,500 in cash and a .38-caliber Ruger handgun.
Gorzalka allegedly admitted to being Gorzalka's supplier, and said he had taken meth to Gorzalka and Thompson on the day they were arrested.
Getter and Greenough are accused of traveling to Denver with Gorzalka to pick up meth or deliver money. Along with Getter and Greenough, Cook and Minow would get meth from Gorzalka and distribute it.
A grand jury returned the indictment in March, charging each defendant with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth. For Cook, Getter, Greenough and Minow, the penalty could include up to 20 years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine and supervised release for a period of three years to life.
For Apodaca and Gorzalka, though, the penalty could be much harsher: 10 years to life in prison, up to a $10,000,000 fine and five years to life on supervised release.
All six defendants entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl on Aug. 23. Five of the defendants are being detained pending their respective sentencing hearings, which are set for November.