L.A. woman convicted in drug ring connection

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) - A Los Angeles woman faces a lengthy prison term after she was convicted by a federal jury in Lexington of drug and money laundering offenses as part of her role in a nationwide drug ring. 


After nine days of deliberation, following a 29-day trial at U. S. District Court in Lexington, the jury convicted 41-year-old Katharine E. Matthews of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering offenses.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky says Matthews partnered with Robert W. Carlson to move cocaine and marijuana, belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel, from California to East Coast cities including Lexington, Louisville, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Miami, using private planes.  She moved thousands of kilograms of cocaine and over 100 kilograms of marijuana to these cities. She also brought millions of dollars from the East Coast back to California to be handed over to the cartel.


Matthews was indicted in October 2017, stemming from a larger investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering activities that was precipitated by a drug seizure from a private plane that arrived, from Van Nuys Airport in Southern California, at Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, in April 2017.


Carlson and four other people have already pleaded guilty for their participation in the drug conspiracy, while three more were acquitted at trial.


“This investigation, and the resulting prosecutions, helped disrupt a major drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating across the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr.  “The convictions are the result of hard work and dedication of the trial team and the investigators that brought this important matter to trial.”


Duncan also saluted the jurors who served on the case.  “They were asked to observe testimony, review evidence, and then ultimately deliberate in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which undoubtedly added an additional level of difficulty.  The Court undertook health safety measures to limit and minimize potential exposure to the virus, and the jurors faithfully discharged their duty.  They bore that responsibility admirably.  I thank the jurors for their important public service.”


Carlson received 200 months in prison, while Matthews will appear for sentencing in August and faces up to life imprisonment.  However, the Court must consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the applicable federal sentencing statutes before imposing a sentence.        

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