News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Details emerge in fed case against meth suspects
Aug 29, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Documents reveal information on guns, cash and large quantities of drugs.
Federal prosecutors have charged a Hudson man and a Green River woman for their alleged involvement in methamphetamine distribution in Fremont County.
The first count states the defendants, Timothy Pitt and Maria de la Luz Vargas, were involved in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, or to distribute, methamphetamine.
A second charge alleges the two used a person under the age of 18 to perpetrate the crime.
Together, the charges carry a penalty of 10 years to life in prison, plus five years of incarceration and a $30,000 fine.
Recently released documents filed with the federal complaint explain the charges against the two defendants.
Vargas, of Green River, allegedly delivered methamphetamine to Pitt at his residence -- his parents' home at 264 Coal St. in Hudson -- on four occasions between April 17 and May 13, according to an affidavit by FBI special agent Paul Swenson.
Based on intercepted phone calls, Vargas delivered about 800 grams -- or 1 pound, 13 ounces -- of meth to Pitt in total, Swenson said.
Video surveillance also revealed two individuals, whose names are redacted, went with Vargas to deliver the drugs, take drug orders and interpret for Vargas, who speaks limited English. Swenson said the two unidentified people were under the age of 18.
Under federal statute, to "employ, hire, use, persuade, induce, entice, or coerce" a minor to take part in drug operation multiplies the regular penalty for that activity -- in this case, selling methamphetamine.
The amount the defendants are believed to have sold -- 500 grams, or about one pound or more of meth, or a mixture or substance containing meth -- also raised their potential sentence.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations and other agencies recorded details of the transactions by intercepting phone communications, tailing Vargas's vehicle and using video surveillance of Pitt's residence. Law enforcement received a court order to start a wire tap on Pitt's home phone on April 15, his cell phone on April 22 and on Vargas's phone on April 26.
Pitt was arrested in Riverton on May 22 with $7,082 cash in his pocket. A search of his residence revealed two pistols, meth, a meth pipe and weight scales.
Vargas was arrested July 18 at her residence in Green River. A search of her home revealed $6,100 cash and an ounce of meth.
The federal charges against the two defendants were filed in an Aug. 23 complaint that was only recently made public. As a result, a drug case against Pitt in Wyoming court was dismissed on Aug. 23, and state charges against Vargas in Sweetwater County were dropped on Aug. 26.
The two had initial hearings before federal magistrate Teresa M. McKee in Lander on Aug. 27. They were each were told about their rights, the charges against them, and the penalties they could face. The affidavit in the case was read to both of them, with an interpreter reading the document to Vargas.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Gist requested both defendants remain in custody, stating that they pose a flight risk and are dangerous to others or the community.
Pitt and Vargas are scheduled for a sentencing hearing Thursday, though Vargas's lawyer moved to postpone her sentencing hearing until the date of her preliminary hearing next week.