Idaho Falls Man Sentenced to Over 5 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Methamphetamine

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POCATELLO – An Idaho Falls man was sentenced to 68 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to court records, on June 19, 2019, Idaho State Police officers initiated a traffic stop on a van driven by Matthew Gary Leander, III, 39, of Idaho Falls. Law enforcement suspected Leander and his passenger, Kevin Ralph Nixon, 55, also of Idaho Falls, were recently involved in the sale of methamphetamine.

After a short pursuit, law enforcement forcefully stopped the van. Leander then fled on foot and was later apprehend. A search of Nixon’s person yielded a bag that contained methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. In the vehicle, law enforcement also found 99.54 grams of methamphetamine. Leander admitted at the time of his guilty plea that he possessed the methamphetamine to distribute it to others.

Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye also ordered Leander to serve four years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Leander pleaded guilty to the charges on August 18, 2021. On December 6, 2021, Judge Nye sentenced Nixon to three years of probation.

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U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr., of the District of Idaho made the announcement and commended the cooperative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Idaho State Police-District 6, and the Idaho Falls Police Department, which led to charges.

This case was handled by the U.S. Attorney Office’s specially deputized Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA), funded by the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP) and the State of Idaho. The EIP is a coalition of local city and county officials in eastern Idaho as well as the Idaho Department of Correction.

The EIP SAUSA program allows law enforcement to utilize the federal criminal justice system – through the EIP SAUSA – to prosecute, convict, and sentence violent, armed criminals and drug traffickers. These criminals often receive stiffer penalties than they might in state courts.

This program was created in January 2016. Since that time, approximately 188 defendants have been indicted by the EIP SAUSA. Of these defendants, 127 have been indicted on drug trafficking charges. The defendants indicted under the program have been sentenced to 7,857 months (approximately 655 years) in federal prison, representing an average prison sentence of 53.09 months (4.42 years). Defendants indicted for drug trafficking offenses serve, on average, approximately 42.13 months (3.5 years) in federal prison.

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