A 66-year-old man originally arrested in Gillette with about 12 pounds of meth was the leader of a major distribution ring involving seven others — all of whom have now been sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.

Raymond Arthur Carnahan has been sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute meth after his arrest in January 2019.

He had been the subject of a lengthy, multi-agency drug investigation, according to Louey Williams, leader of the Northeast Enforcement Team of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. Williams said it is believed to be the largest confiscation of meth in Campbell County history with an estimated street value of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Investigators with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation began getting information in September 2018 that Carnahan was selling meth in the Gillette area, obtaining the meth from sources in either Colorado or Arizona. They learned that Carnahan met with his meth source in Denver or Phoenix and would bring it back to Gillette to sell, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne.

But he relied on others to distribute smaller quantities of it and then used the money from the smaller sales to buy more meth, according to the press release.

Carnhan was arrested Jan. 28, 2019, after officers tried to stop him in Gillette in his tan GMC Terrain before he led led deputies on a high-speed pursuit for about 30 minutes. It ended when the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office disabled the vehicle using spike strips in the area near Burnt Hollow, 20 miles north of Gillette. Carnahan was arrested after a short foot pursuit in which he tried to get rid of a backpack.

A search of the GMC and the backpack resulted in the seizure of about 12 pounds of suspected methamphetamine in 1-pound bricks and 3 ounces of suspected cocaine, along with a suspected drug ledger and other drug paraphernalia.

That same day, search warrants were executed on a home in the 900 block of Clarion Drive and a storage unit used by Carnahan.

Carnahan was charged with various crimes by the Campbell County Attorney’s Office, but those charges were later dropped because he was charged federally for the same crimes.

The others sentenced in the case weren't charged locally but indicted in U.S. District Court.

Investigators learned that Carnahan's source of supply was Kelly Miles Finnessey of Colorado.

Details of the cases against them were sealed as part of the federal indictment, but documents indicated that the conspiracy among the eight involved meth trafficking from August 2018 to Carnhan's arrest.

Sentenced were:

  • Carnahan: 200 months in prison and then 60 months of supervised released for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He also must pay a $100 special assessment. Chief Federal District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl recommended he be placed in an Oregon prison because of his health. 
  • Terry William Clifford, 48: 260 months in prison, then 60 months of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute meth and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on Jan. 1, 2020. He also was ordered to pay $500 in community restitution and a $200 special assessment. Skavdahl recommended Clifford be placed in a federal Arkansas or Oregon prison.
  • Kelly Miles Finnessey: 168 months in prison and then five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute meth. He also must pay a $100 special assessment. A federal prison in Colorado was recommended.
  • Cody Lee Shuck: 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute meth. He must pay a $100 assessment and $400 in community restitution. He was recommended for prison in Colorado, South Dakota or Minnesota.
  • Antonio Cortes Saez, 24: 181 months and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute meth and possession of firearms in a drug trafficking crime from Oct. 21, 2019 to Jan. 29, 2020. He also must pay a $200 assessment. A count of being a felon in possession of a firearm was dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Skavdahl recommended placement in a facility where his safety will be ensured as a former member of the Surenos gang and with a dual diagnosis program like in California, Kentucky, Missouri or Texas.
  • Heather Rae Thomas, 34: 97 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release, $100 assessment and $400 community restitution for conspiracy to distribute meth. A Florida prison was recommended.
  • Quinton Michael Case, 40: 130 months followed by five years supervised release and a $100 assessment. Prisons in Arizona or Wisconsin were recommended.
  • Jennifer Ann Moss, 34: 169 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute meth and possession of firearms in a drug trafficking crime, a sentence that is to be served concurrently to a Campbell County District Court case in which she was found with 1.5 ounces of meth and sentenced to three to five years. Federal documents allege that in that crime, she had a firearm. She also must pay a $200 assessment, and a California prison is recommended.

All were recommended for drug treatment programs in prison.

“Methamphetamine continues to be Wyoming’s No. 1 drug problem," said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray. "This office’s concern is not only for the users who struggle daily with addiction, but also for their family and friends — especially children living with a meth-addicted parent who are often neglected and subjected to dangerous, unpredictable conditions."

Matt Waldock, DCI Region 1 commander, said the case was "a prime example" of how effective statewide drug task forces can be when they work together.

“Drug traffickers exploit individuals with addictions, which leads to increases in other crimes within our communities. DCI remains committed to the enforcement of those who choose to profit from these addictions," Waldock said.

This crime was investigated by DCI, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and the Gillette Police Department. The United States was represented initially by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Healy, who left the case after receiving an appointment to a district judgeship in Campbell County, and later by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Coppom.

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