U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
Leader of International Drug Trafficking Organization Operating in Lane County Sentenced to Federal Prison - 06/18/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—The leader of an international drug trafficking organization operating in Lane County, Oregon, responsible for trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine into the state between 2018 and 2020, was sentenced to federal prison today.

Victor Diaz-Ramirez, 33, was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

“While communities across our state continue to struggle with the ongoing drug crisis, there are criminal enterprises, like the Diaz-Ramirez drug trafficking organization, whose sole purpose is to profit from addiction and suffering. This far-reaching investigation demonstrates the deep commitment of all involved law enforcement agencies to combatting drug trafficking and keeping our communities safe,” said Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eugene and Medford Branch Offices.

“Drug traffickers like Mr. Diaz-Ramirez prey on our communities by peddling large amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, often to our most vulnerable,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Seattle Field Division. “I am gratified that the hard work of DEA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our many partners from law enforcement agencies across Oregon led to the lengthy sentence Mr. Diaz-Ramirez received in this case. Justice was truly served.”

According to court documents, from at least March 2018 through August 2020, while operating out of Mexico, Diaz-Ramirez helped lead an international drug trafficking organization responsible for trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine from Mexico into the United States. Diaz-Ramirez’s organization used a network of associates to transport the drugs from Southern California to Oregon and deliver them to local distributors in exchange for cash. 

As part of this investigation, law enforcement seized more than 178 pounds of methamphetamine, 12 pounds of heroin, six pounds of fentanyl, 18 rifles, three rifle optics, and ammunition. Investigators also forfeited approximately $1.2 million from the organization, including more than $400,000 in cash. In total, 35 people—including sources of supply in Mexico, couriers, local cell operators in Lane County, and first and second level distributors responsible for sales in and around Eugene—were charged and have been convicted for their roles in Diaz-Ramirez’s organization.

On August 5, 2020, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned an indictment charging Diaz-Ramirez with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. On November 1, 2023, Diaz-Ramirez pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding criminal information charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

This case was investigated by DEA, FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department, Lane County Sherriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (LINE), and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (DINT). It was prosecuted by Joseph Huynh and Judi Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Distributing Fentanyl and Stealing Covid Relief Program Funds - 06/17/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local man was sentenced to federal prison today for distributing counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl in and around Portland and stealing federal funds intended to help small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yuriy Viktorovich Vasilchuk, 33, a Portland resident, was sentenced to 49 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $32,855 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

According to court documents, in early 2021, special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified Vasilchuk as a Portland area source of supply for counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. In December 2021, Vasilchuk was located in a stolen vehicle. He was arrested with 88 counterfeit Oxycodone pills and later released.

On May 3, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Vasilchuk with one count of possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. Following his indictment, HSI special agents and probation officers from the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice (DCJ) attempted to arrest Vasilchuk who was again located in a stolen vehicle. As the probation officers approached Vasilchuk’s stolen vehicle, Vasilchuk sped off, nearly striking a nearby probation officer. After fleeing for several miles and causing multiple accidents, Vasilchuk’s vehicle became inoperable and he fled on foot. Soon after, investigators located Vasilchuk hiding in an abandoned RV and placed him under arrest.

Following his arrest, investigators obtained evidence that, between March and November of 2021, while he was actively distributing fentanyl, Vasilchuk applied to receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the SBA. In his applications, Vasilchuk falsely stated that he had not, within the past five years, been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony involving fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or making a false statement on a loan application. Based on the false information provided, the SBA disbursed more than $32,000 to Vasilchuk, which he in turn spent on various personal expenses.

On August 22, 2023, Vasilchuk was charged by criminal information with wire fraud. On March 11, 2024, he pleaded to one count each of wire fraud and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl, resolving both of his criminal cases.

These cases were investigated by HSI, the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team (WIN), and the SBA Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Portland Police Bureau and DCJ. They were prosecuted by Cassady A. Adams and Rachel K. Sowray, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

WIN is a Washington County, Oregon-based multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force supported by the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program that includes members from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Beaverton and Hillsboro Police Departments, Oregon National Guard Counter Drug Program, FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Oregon Check Casher Found Guilty for Role in Payroll Tax Scheme - 06/12/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal jury in Portland found the operator of a local chain of check cashing businesses guilty today for his role in a multiyear scheme to obstruct the IRS from collecting payroll and income taxes on construction workers’ wages.

David A. Katz, 48, of Tualatin, Oregon, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing false currency transaction reports with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

“This defendant’s efforts to help others circumvent their tax responsibilities was thwarted thanks to the dedicated criminal investigators at the IRS. Business owners who abuse the system and help others hide taxable income will be held accountable,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“Our tax system is based on the honesty and integrity of taxpayers who understand that taxes fund the common good. However, there are some, like Mr. Katz, who choose to line their own pockets at the expense of their friends and neighbors,” said Special Agent in Charge Adam Jobes, IRS Criminal Investigation (CI), Seattle Field Office. “Mr. Katz’s conviction by a jury of his peers emphasizes the fact that no one is above paying their fair share, and shows that CI is committed to investigating those who choose to undermine their communities.”

According to court documents and trial testimony, from January 2014 through December 2017, Katz, the compliance officer of Check Cash Pacific, Inc., conspired with others in the construction industry to defraud the United States by facilitating under-the-table payments to construction workers. To carry out the scheme, sham construction companies were created and used to cash more than $177 million in payroll checks at different Check Cash Pacific locations. The cash was used to pay construction workers under-the-table, with no taxes being withheld or reported to the IRS.

Construction companies would notify Katz when they planned to bring checks into one of his check cashing locations so that Katz could ensure he had enough cash on hand to complete the transaction. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of payroll checks were cashed daily and Katz was aware that at least one of his co-conspirators used a false name and social security number.

For his role in the scheme, Katz received a 2% commission on each transaction which, in total, amounted to more than $4 million. Over the course of their conspiracy, Katz and his co-conspirators prevented the IRS from collecting more than $44 million in payroll and income taxes due on the cash wages.

On December 2, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a five-count indictment charging Katz and five others with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Katz was charged in the same indictment with four counts of filing false currency transaction reports with FinCEN.

Conspiracy to defraud the United States is punishable by up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release. Filing false currency transaction reports is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release.

Three of Katz’s co-conspirators have pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from their roles in the conspiracy. Two are awaiting sentencing and the third was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Another co-conspirator is awaiting trial and one is a fugitive.

This case was investigated by IRS-CI. It was prosecuted by Robert S. Trisotto and Andrew T. Ho, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Gresham Man Caught Selling Drugs to Minors Online Faces Federal Charges - 06/10/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Gresham, Oregon man is facing federal charges today after he was caught using Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, to sell various controlled substances to minors.

Timothy Jeffrey Monahan, 31, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

“Drug trafficking has had an alarming impact on children in our communities. We thank the FBI, Clackamas County Interagency Task Force, and all our law enforcement partners for their continued focus on holding accountable individuals that target children,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

According to court documents, early in 2024, law enforcement obtained information that an individual, later determined to be Monahan, was allegedly using Telegram to advertise the sale of various illegal narcotics including cocaine, LSD, ketamine, DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, and various marijuana and vaping products. Monahan is alleged to have used the Telegram usernames “Thepdxyokai” and “Yokai” to advertise and broker the sale of narcotics and used an adult drug runner to deliver the drugs to customers on his behalf. 

On June 7, 2024, investigators executed federal search warrants on Monahan’s residence and vehicle wherein they located and seized quantities of cocaine and psilocybin mushrooms, two loaded firearms, drug packaging materials and scales, and more than $106,000 in cash. After he was placed under arrest, Monahan admitted to operating the Telegram accounts located by investigators to sell narcotics to a customer based composed mostly of minors. Monahan further admitted to trading controlled substances in exchange for sex acts or sexually explicit photos from his customers.

Monahan made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF). It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

CCITF, led by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, works to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in and around Clackamas County, and reduce illegal drugs and related crimes throughout the community. The task force is comprised of members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Canby Police Department, Oregon State Police, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). CCITF is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Jackson County Drug Dealer Sentenced to Federal Prison - 06/07/24

MEDFORD, Ore.—A known Jackson County drug dealer was sentenced to federal prison today after law enforcement located distribution quantities of drugs, including fentanyl, and a firearm in his abandoned vehicle.

Anthony Ross Minneci, 36, was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in January 2019, following his release from prison for drug trafficking and illegally possessing a firearm, Minneci resumed selling drugs throughout Southern Oregon. From early 2019 to March 2022, Minneci was charged in multiple cases in Jackson and Josephine County Circuit Courts for drug trafficking, illegally possessing firearms, and eluding police.

On January 1, 2022, a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office observed a vehicle failing to stop at an intersection and driving at a high rate of speed. The deputy identified Minneci as the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle and pursued him briefly before Minneci got away. Later that evening, investigators found the vehicle unoccupied in a rural area, but were unable to locate Minneci.

On January 5, 2022, investigators executed a search warrant on the vehicle and located fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as a firearm, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia. Investigators also found items identifying Minneci, including a driver’s license. On March 15, 2022, Minneci was arrested in Siskiyou County, California, following another attempt to elude police. At the time of his arrest, Minneci was found in possession of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and two firearms.

On May 5, 2022, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a three-count indictment charging Minneci with possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, illegally possessing ammunition as a convicted felon, and possessing firearms in relation to a drug trafficking crime. 

On February 26, 2024, Minneci pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

The cases against Minneci were investigated by the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE) with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team (RADE), Oregon State Police, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, Medford Police Department, and the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

MADGE is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach. MADGE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and is composed of members from the Medford Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, the Jackson County Community Corrections, FBI, and HSI.

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives.

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Attached Media Files: Minneci Sentencing
Portland High School Teacher Sentenced to Federal Prison for Attempting to Entice and Coerce a Minor Online - 06/07/24

MEDFORD, Ore.—A high school teacher from Portland was sentenced to federal prison today after he traveled to Bend, Oregon, in hopes of meeting a 15-year-old child he met online.

Edward Hernandez-Corchado, 27, was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison and 10 years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in November 2022, as part of an ongoing investigation into online child exploitation, a police officer from Bend, Oregon set up and began using a Snapchat account to pose as a 15-year-old child. As the investigation continued, the officer, posing as the child, met an individual online who was later determined to be Hernandez-Corchado. Over the next several days, Hernandez-Corchado engaged in sexually explicit communication with the officer, who he still believed was a child, and developed a plan to meet the child in Bend.

On November 11, 2022, Hernandez-Corchado traveled to Bend to meet the child and was intercepted and arrested by law enforcement. Following his arrest, Hernandez-Corchado admitted to regularly engaging in sexually explicit communications with underage girls online, possessing child pornography, and previously meeting and engaging in sexual conduct with two minors in the Salem, Oregon area.

On November 19, 2022, Hernandez-Corchado was charged by criminal complaint with enticing a minor. Later, on January 12, 2023, a federal grand jury in Medford returned an indictment charging Hernandez-Corchado with attempted coercion and enticement of a minor and, on January 8, 2024, he pleaded guilty to the single charge.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bend Police Department. It was prosecuted by Judith R. Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to contact HSI at (866) 347-2423 or submit a tip online at report.cybertip.org.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. It is important to remember child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document the victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, they re-victimize and re-traumatize the child victims each time their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.missingkids.org.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Texas Man Faces Federal Charges After Traveling to Engage in Sexual Conduct with a Minor He Met Online - 06/06/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Presidio, Texas man is facing federal charges today after he traveled to Oregon to engage in sexual conduct with a minor he met online.

Steven Worth Ellis, 60, has been charged by criminal complaint with traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, attempting to sexually exploit a child, and coercing and enticing a minor.

According to court documents, in late May 2024, the Oregon Department of Human Services received a tip alleging that Ellis was engaged in an online sexual relationship with a 15-year-old child. It was reported that Ellis had met the child on Reddit, a popular online forum, and engaged in frequent, sexually explicit communication with the child for at least a month. It was further alleged that Ellis told the child he wanted to marry her and made plans to travel from his home in Texas to Oregon to “come get her.”

Further investigation revealed that Ellis did intend to travel to Oregon to meet the child and had an active vacation rental reservation for a residence located near the child’s home. Investigators began tracking Ellis’s movements and soon observed him leaving Texas and traveling in a northwest direction toward Oregon.

Investigators intercepted and arrested Ellis today in The Dalles, Oregon, and he made his initial appearance in federal court in Portland before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Portland Police Bureau. It is being prosecuted by Mira Chernick, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to contact HSI at (866) 347-2423 or submit a tip online at report.cybertip.org.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release