By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune
A pair of California residents admitted to federal charges alleging they helped bring a large amount of methamphetamine to Park County.
Last month, William Taylor — who was caught with more than 200 grams of meth and other drugs outside of Cody in July — pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute meth, while Melissa Walsh (aka Melissa Peralez) pleaded guilty to distribution of meth. They are both set to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Casper in February.
An investigation led by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and assisted by both local and federal law enforcement agencies concluded that Taylor helped bring drugs to the Cody area from July 2020 through July 2021 — and that Walsh assisted on at least one occasion in June.
DCI agents and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service found evidence that Taylor had been supplying drugs to Philip Dobbins of Cody. Dobbins was the subject of a lengthy DCI investigation and is currently a fugitive, after jumping bail on federal drug charges.
A court-approved search of the men’s correspondence on Facebook Messenger found Taylor and Dobbins had been in touch since at least the summer of 2020, according to charging documents. In a July 2020 message, Taylor indicated that he would be back in Cody early the next month and “ill bring a bunch this time.”
“I know through my training and experience and with consulting with other law enforcement officers and through reading other correspondence between Dobbins and Taylor that ‘ill bring a bunch this time’ is referring to bringing illegal narcotics,” Postal Inspector Richard Fergon of Denver wrote in charging documents.
In February, Taylor reportedly shipped a package from Sacramento to Dobbins’ P.O. box in Cody. Then in March, Taylor told Dobbins that he’d “put 2 more in the mail” as soon as he got “6 each” — a message that Inspector Fergon interpreted as offering 2 ounces of narcotics for $600. Dobbins soon wired $610 to Taylor, who shipped another package Dobbins’ way.
It arrived at the post office on March 22, charging documents say, but Dobbins never picked it up. On March 23, Dobbins was on his way back to Cody from a trip to the Denver area when he and a passenger were pulled over by Cody police. Inside their vehicle, police and DCI agents eventually found 354 grams of apparent methamphetamine.
The passenger, Natosha Martin of Cody, cooperated with authorities and received a 37-month federal prison sentence in October for conspiracy to distribute meth.
As for Dobbins, he was released from federal custody in late June — over the objection of prosecutors — so he could attend a drug treatment facility in Sheridan. However, when a judge ordered Dobbins to return to jail in early October, he fled. He’s been at large since then.
As for the package that Taylor shipped to Dobbins back in March, it wound up being intercepted by USPIS personnel. A court-approved search revealed that it held 62 grams of meth, or a little over 2 ounces, according to charging documents.
While Dobbins was taken into custody, Taylor is alleged to have continued supplying drugs in Park County, moving to rural Cody in May. On June 23, Taylor sold 1.7 grams of meth to an undercover DCI agent at a Cody gas station, charging documents allege, and he soon sold her another 2 grams.
The same day he made his first sale to the DCI agent, Taylor is alleged to have contacted Walsh — the codefendant who remained in the Sacramento area — asking her to “go see Janet for me … and send me a package.”
“Just let me know when and where,” Walsh responded. A few days later, on June 27, she shipped a parcel to Taylor, not only putting her name on the package but also being captured on surveillance camera footage placing it in the mail, Inspector Fergon wrote.
The shipment was seized by law enforcement and they found 54 grams of apparent meth inside.
At that point, investigators were monitoring Taylor’s movements and in mid-July, they learned that he had traveled to Sacramento and was on his way back to Cody.
Around 4:30 p.m. on July 13, Park County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Toohey pulled Taylor over for no valid registration on display and spotted apparent meth residue around the driver’s side of the car. A narcotics K-9 from the Powell Police Department alerted to the scent of narcotics and a subsequent search turned up about 201 grams (7 ounces) of apparent meth, 45 grams of marijuana and 6.4 grams of heroin, charging documents say. The meth had a street value of around $20,000.
Both Walsh and Taylor have been detained since their arrests. She is set to be sentenced on Feb. 17, while Taylor is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 2.