Eleven face federal prison on drug and gun charges

U.S. attorney: Treasure Valley task force wiped out local meth ring, seized 12 guns

krodine@idahostatesman.comMarch 3, 2014 

Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, discusses a multi-agency investigation that resulted in 11 suspects pleading guilty.

KRISTIN RODINE

One of Idaho's biggest guns and drugs investigations is wrapping up after the last of 11 suspects entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court Monday, Idaho’s U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.

Jeramie Mahler, 27, of Star pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and discharging a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Mahler admitted shooting a man during a dispute about the quality of methamphetamine last March, Olson said.

The shooting drew media attention because it occurred near the Southwest Ada County home of Idaho Sen. Russ Fulcher, now a candidate for governor. Olson said Fulcher was in no way involved with the dispute, but his family rendered aid to the victim, who survived and went to the Fulcher house for help.

Mahler was arrested eight days later after Canyon County sheriff’s deputies stopped a car he was driving and subsequently found a quarter-pound of methamphetamine and two handguns, one of which was confirmed to have been used in the March 25 shooting.

FBI special agent Doug Hart said the long, multi-agency investigation and arrests effectively dismantled a drug trafficking ring responsible for distributing an estimated 30 pounds of meth or more in the Treasure Valley.

Olson held a news conference Monday afternoon with Hart and representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Idaho Department of Correction; Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue and Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson.

“The coordination and cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement officers is critical to proper and effective enforcement of laws that keep bad guys off of our streets, and guns and drugs out of their hands,” Olson said.

Mahler admitted he and his co-defendants agreed to distribute meth starting in January 2013 and continuing for months, Olson said. Most of those indicted in connection with the meth ring hail from Nampa.

When Mahler is sentenced in May, he will be about the ninth person to be sentenced in the District of Idaho on both drug and gun charges this year, Olson said. He faces at least 20 years in prison.

“Drugs and guns are a dangerous combination,” said Olson. “In Idaho, federal law enforcement officers, in conjunction with their state and local partners, vigorously investigate dangerous persons who use and possess firearms in violation of federal gun laws. Our goal is simple: to keep guns away from violent individuals and to keep our community safe.”

The collaborative investigation resulted in the seizure of 12 firearms, including a fully automatic weapon, Olson said.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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