Laramie County Sheriff Brian Kozak says a fentanyl distribution investigation that was launched following a tip from a very observant jailer has led to 32 arrests and 16,385 fentanyl pills (3.61 pounds) being seized.

Kozak made the major announcement during a Tuesday news conference.

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Kozak says it all started on Dec. 17, 2022, when the jailer located a door that had been manipulated going from the laundry room to a secured area within the jail.

While investigating the door, a “shattered glass” block was located on the exterior wall of the jail.

Detention staff reviewed video footage and identified an inmate who had gained access to the secured area.

Further review of video footage identified a vehicle and an individual who was suspected of delivering drugs to the inmate through the opening in the glass block wall.

Discovery of Hole in Jail Wall Leads to Dangerous Drug Organization

The investigation was turned over to the LCSO detective assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, and he and his partner, an agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, identified a drug organization operating out of Colorado and Mexico that was supplying fentanyl and methamphetamine to numerous individuals in Laramie County and southeast Wyoming.

The 15-month investigation, dubbed Operation Shattered Glass, led to the arrest of 32 suspects.

Twelve suspects who were higher-level dealers were prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office and eight have received sentences ranging from 24 to 75 months in federal prison.

Laramie County Sheriff's Office
Laramie County Sheriff's Office
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  • Ryan Bennett, Felon in Possession of Firearm, Intent to Deliver Fentanyl (66 months federal prison)
  • Joseph Flores, Intent to Deliver Fentanyl (24 months federal prison)
  • Raymond Paddock, Intent to Deliver Fentanyl (33 months federal prison)
  • Daniel Ellis, Intent to Deliver Fentanyl (63 months federal prison)
  • Michael Guzman, Intent to Deliver Fentanyl (75 months federal prison)
  • Ashley Hyatt, Intent to Deliver Fentanyl, Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl (65 months federal prison)
  • Cesar Lerma Hernandez, Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl (57 months federal prison)
  • Miguel Guerrero-Castaneda, Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl (57 months federal prison)
  • Three defendants are awaiting sentencing – names withheld
  • One defendant is awaiting trial – name withheld

Nineteen suspects who were lower-level dealers and users were prosecuted by the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office and most received sentences of time served and probation.

Laramie County Sheriff's Office
Laramie County Sheriff's Office
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  • Jesse Coolbaugh, Introduction of Controlled Substance to a Jail (3-5 years state prison)
  • Jordanne Cole, Drug Possession
  • Amber Wessel, Unrelated arrest warrant
  • Lily Bullis, Drug Possession
  • Brandon Oram, Unrelated arrest warrant
  • Wilbur Turner, Drug Possession
  • Gail Ellis, Drug Possession
  • Olivia Merrill, Drug Possession
  • Nolan Meeks, Drug Possession, and an unrelated arrest warrant
  • Korysa Shepard, Drug Possession (Died of fatal drug poisoning)
  • Derrek McNalley, Unrelated arrest warrant
  • Brady Ehlers, Unrelated arrest warrant
  • Three defendants are awaiting sentencing – names withheld
  • Four defendants are awaiting trial – names withheld
Laramie County Sheriff's Office
Laramie County Sheriff's Office
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Anthoney Bryant, one of the 32 suspects who were arrested, is currently being sought on a warrant.

The LCSO has placed him on its Most Wanted list and is asking for the public’s help in locating him.

RELATED: Cheyenne Man Facing Up to 10 Years in Prison for Stealing Pack of Smokes

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger, except for fentanyl; fentanyl kills," Kozak said. "Thus, my office will always place the highest priority to stop fentanyl distribution."

"Fentanyl poisoning was the cause of 17 deaths in Laramie County in 2023 and the agencies who came together as one team for Operation Shattered Glass care," he added. "Opioid addiction is hard, but regret is harder."

To illustrate his point, Kozak referred to Korysa Shepard who was arrested for drug possession during the operation.

She was released from the Laramie County Detention Center in February of 2023 and went to Fort Collins, Colorado where she died of an overdose.

Kozak said he now gives Narcan, a drug that counteracts opioid poisoning, to each addicted inmate who is released from his jail.

Kozak is also starting a Correctional Treatment Unit in the jail, which will be staffed by master-level counselors who will provide group and individual treatment to inmates who request help.

The LCSO also has three Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) counselors on staff to help those suffering from chemical dependency.

"If you distribute fentanyl in Laramie County, my office will go after you and seek federal prosecution," said Kozak. "However, if you ask for help with addiction, we will be there for you."

Kozak says Operation Shattered Glass also resulted in the seizure of 604 grams of methamphetamine, 64 grams of heroin, four grams of cocaine, and five firearms from drug dealers who were not allowed to possess firearms.

Kozak awarded a commendation award to the jailer who uncovered the smuggling operation and meritorious service awards to the LCSO detective and DCI agent who led Operation Shattered Glass.

Their names are being withheld due to their undercover duty assignment and the severe impact they made on a dangerous drug organization.

Kozak also awarded a teamwork ribbon to every law enforcement officer, prosecutor, and agency who assisted.

Laramie County Sheriff's Office
Laramie County Sheriff's Office
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