By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Cheyenne man faces life in prison and a $10 million fine due on allegations he conspired to distribute meth throughout the state.
Daniel Patrick Gutierrez was charged earlier this month in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, a felony charge that comes with a penalty ranging from 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.
According to court documents, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation began an investigation in December 2020 into the use and distribution of meth in Natrona County.
Through the course of the investigation, Joseph Hooker was identified as a source of supply for the drug in Natrona County. Agents conducted multiple interviews with known co-conspirators and other individuals related to Hooker and his alleged possession and distribution of large quantities of the drug, as his trips to Cheyenne and Colorado to obtain more drugs for redistribution in Natrona County.
That same month, DCI agents conducted a controlled purchase of meth from Hooker using a confidential informant, buying 3.6 grams of the drug.
In January 2021, a DCI agent received a search warrant to begin tracking Hooker’s cell phone GPS data, which showed he traveled to Cheyenne and returned the next day to Casper. He was arrested that same day and was found with 199 grams (almost one-half pound) of methamphetamine, packaging materials associated with the distribution of drugs and two semi-automatic pistols.
After Hooker’s arrest, the agent received a search warrant to look through Hooker’s phone and found numerous conversations between Hooker and Gutierrez related to the use and distribution of controlled substances, as well as the collection of money.
The agent found Hooker and Gutierrez appeared to arrange and conspire to obtain meth on six separate occasions, obtaining six to nine pounds of meth during that time. They also discussed and referenced prices commonly associated with one-half and one pound quantities of meth, as well as the collection and transmission of money for the purchases, an affidavit said.
The agent also found that Gutierrez’s address in Cheyenne appeared in Hooker’s GPS data on his phone.
In February, agents conducted an interview with a different confidential informant, who had recently been arrested with one-quarter of an ounce of meth, which had been bought from Gutierrez.
The informant said he or she had been to Gutierrez’s home twice to obtain meth, once to get one-eighth of an ounce and again to obtain one-quarter of an ounce, which Gutierrez had provided as a “front,” since the informant said he or she was not not doing well and needed to make some money.
In August, police searched Gutierrez’s home in Cheyenne and he was taken into custody on an active warrant from Natrona County.
After Gutierrez was taken into custody, he told agents he did not want to speak with them, but also questioned how he could be charged in Casper for a crime, as he claimed he had not “stepped foot” in the city and did not live there.
An agent told Gutierrez that he did not have to live in the city to be charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs. Gutierrez said he hadn’t “sold” to anyone in the city, but then recanted and admitted to selling to “a couple” of people in Casper.
During the search of Gutierrez’s home, agents found two rifles, various ammunition, small quantities of suspected meth, suspected fentanyl pills and multiple items of drug paraphernalia. Agents noted that much of his bedroom was covered in writing, alluding to nicknames of Gutierrez’s including “Kasper” and “Mr. H20 Meth Kingpin.”
In November, agents conducted an interview with a third confidential informant, who confirmed Gutierrez’s aforementioned nicknames and said he or she had bought meth from him. The informant also said Gutierrez obtained his meth from a source in Colorado, according to the affidavit.
According to the third informant, Gutierrez said when he got out of federal prison, his source fronted him five pounds of meth and while Gutierrez redistributed the drugs, he spent most of the profit gambling.
Since he spent a majority of the money, Gutierrez was no longer to able obtain meth from his source on credit, and had to pay for it first.
The informant said he or she traveled with Gutierrez and Ashley Gutierrez to the Thornton, Colorado, area to obtain meth from the source. The informant said the first time they went to Colorado, Daniel Gutierrez took an AR-15 and two pistols with him to trade for the drugs.
Since the source of the meth charged $4,500 to $5,000 per pound, the informant said that Gutierrez had trouble coming up with the money to pay for it in advance.
The informant said Gutierrez “ran a gun ring” in Cheyenne and explained that he would trade meth or fentanyl pills to juveniles and adults in the city in exchange for firearms, including stolen ones.
The informant said he or she Hooker and Gutierrez were involved in distributing meth together, but did not know the specifics of their involvement with each other.
Gutierrez apparently expressed concern about his co-conspirator getting arrested and federally charged, worrying that his friend would admit to their drug dealing, the affidavit said.