Aug 28, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterTimothy Pitt faces stiffer potential penalties after his case moved to the federal court system. The Hudson man accused of leading a methamphetamine distribution ring in Fremont County could now face life in prison if convicted.
The charges filed against Pitt by the Fremont County Attorney's Office were dismissed Friday, and the U.S. Attorney's Office filed a complaint, the first step in a federal prosecution, this week.
Federal charges include possession "with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance."
If convicted, Pitt would face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
County prosecutors had charged the defendant with one count of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman John Powell said the federal complaint involves more charges but he could not reveal them because the case is sealed.
"There (are) other charges, but that has to do with the reason it is sealed," he said.
Court documents are unavailable for the same reason.
Cases can be sealed if prosecutors are investigating other individuals in the case, if revealing the names of others involved in the case would put them in danger, or if a juvenile is involved, Powell said.
Federal prosecutors met with Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett to discuss moving the case to the federal justice system, Powell said.
"It was determined federal court was the most appropriate place to try this case," Powell said. "The county attorney agreed."
Documents filed in state court in Pitt's case described an extensive, two-year countywide drug investigation that involved wiretapping, surveillance and the use of confidential informants led by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. The surveillance of phone communications reportedly took place over a month and half.
The investigation culminated in the May arrests of nine people in Fremont County on drug charges.
In an affidavit, DCI agent Brady Patrick said Pitt headed a drug distribution network involving several of his codefendants.
The Fremont County Attorney's Office will continue to prosecute those other eight defendants.
Another federal case
One defendant whose case is related to Pitt's has joined him in federal court.
The recently filed federal complaint charged Maria de la Cruz-Vargas, 46, with the same crimes as Pitt, including possession with intent to distribute, Powell said.
District court documents Fremont County prosecutors filed in the case against Pitt stated de la Cruz-Vargas traveled from the Rock Springs area to supply him with methamphetamine.
The Green River Star reported she was arrested July 19 in Green River, several weeks after Pitt and eight others were arrested in May in Fremont County. She faced charges of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine and delivery of methamphetamine.
The case against de la Cruz-Vargas in Wyoming's 3rd District Court in Sweetwater County were dismissed Monday.
A man arrested with de la Cruz-Vargas, 28-year-old Luis Alberto Govea-Vargas, does not face federal charges, and his case will continue in district court in Sweetwater County.
Documents in Govea-Vargas's case allege he and de la Cruz-Vargas were part of a group that brought methamphetamine from Salt Lake City, California and Las Vegas to distribute around southwest Wyoming, according to the Green River Star.
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