A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine while possessing a firearm pled guilty July 8, 2022, in federal court in Sioux City.
Shawn Gaston, 32, from Peru, Illinois, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
At the plea hearing, Gaston admitted from February 2020 through October 2021, he and others distributed methamphetamine across Northern Iowa and elsewhere. In October 2021, law enforcement in Clay County, Iowa attempted to effectuate a traffic stop on a vehicle Gaston was operating. Gaston led law enforcement on a lengthy high-speed pursuit with Gaston’s vehicle ultimately crashing into a creek in Dickinson County, Iowa. Gaston exited the vehicle after the crash and disposed of a firearm and methamphetamine about 20 yards from the vehicle before being apprehended. Gaston was previously convicted of at least four felony convictions, including possession of stolen property and possession of drugs. These convictions prohibit Gaston from possessing any firearm.
Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Gaston remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. Gaston faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ with 10 years’ imprisonment on the drug convictions plus a consecutive term of 5 years’ imprisonment on the gun conviction and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $20,500,000 fine, and life of supervised release following any imprisonment.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The case was investigated by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Great Lakes Drug Task Force, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Spencer Police Department, H.E.A.T., Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force, Minnesota BCA, Worthington Police Department, Wisconsin DCI, Sauk County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office, Iowa-Grant Wisconsin Drug Task Force, Crawford County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and Iowa DCI Laboratory. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick T. Greenwood