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Las Vegas man sentenced for drug trafficking

Posted at 10:46 AM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 13:46:22-05

A Las Vegas man was sentenced on Feb. 12 to 13 years in prison for his participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy involving methamphetamine and a related money laundering conspiracy.

38-year-old Billy “Red Dollaz” Cooks previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with his co-defendant and girlfriend, E’lala Frank, also of Las Vegas, and others to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Cooks also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Frank to launder the illicit proceeds from his drug trafficking activity.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, who handled the sentencing hearing, United States Postal Inspectors in Anchorage intercepted a suspicious package sent from Las Vegas to an address in Anchorage on Jan. 22, 2014. Once a drug detecting canine positively indicated for the presence of controlled substances inside the package, inspectors obtained a search warrant for the parcel.

Inside, inspectors found what was ultimately determined to be 443.5 grams of methamphetamine. At that time, inspectors removed the methamphetamine from the package, replaced it with an imitation substance, and prepared to deliver the package to the recipient address.

The next day, on Jan. 23, 2014, in a joint operation between the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS and United States Postal Inspection Service, investigators conducted surveillance at the parcel’s recipient address, as an undercover inspector delivered the package to the residence.

The package was accepted at the door by a man identified as Dawud Johnson of Anchorage. Shortly after receiving the package, Johnson departed the residence in a vehicle and was followed by investigators. Minutes later, investigators observed Johnson throw the package out of the window of his vehicle. Johnson was arrested shortly thereafter at a nearby shopping center.

A subsequent review of Johnson’s telephone records revealed communication between Johnson and “Red Dollaz” in the days leading up to the shipment of the package of methamphetamine from Las Vegas to Johnson in Anchorage. Further investigation confirmed that “Red Dollaz” was Billy Cooks.

Review of Johnson’s phone records also uncovered communication between Johnson and Cooks regarding a bank transaction involving a Wells Fargo bank account in Frank’s name. Investigator’s review of these records, as well as banking information for Frank’s account, indicated that Johnson deposited cash into the account that was subsequently withdrawn at an ATM in Henderson.

Continued investigation into banking records, bank security footage, and security footage from the United States Postal Service confirmed that Frank had mailed the package of methamphetamine on Cooks’ behalf and that Cooks, Johnson, and Frank had moved various amounts of money through Frank’s bank account.

Johnson previously received a sentence of 15 years in prison for his participation in this scheme.

In sentencing Cooks, Judge Sharon Gleason commented that she felt Cooks’ drug trafficking activity was primarily motivated not by the defendant’s own addiction, as the defendant suggested, but by greed. Judge Gleason also reflected for some time about the extremely damaging effects of methamphetamine on the Anchorage community, characterizing the defendant’s drug trafficking offense as a particularly troubling one. Gleason also held Cooks responsible for getting Frank involved in facilitating the laundering of his drug trafficking proceeds.