Elsa Bray

Elsa V. Bray

A federal judge Wednesday morning sentenced an Arizona woman to supervised release for her conviction on a heroin charge following her arrest on a Wyoming highway.

Elsa V. Bray, of Tucson, will be required to serve three years on supervised release in addition to the time she already served behind bars in advance of sentencing. Although the sentence is in apparent accordance with a plea agreement, court documents indicating the terms of that agreement were filed under court seal and are not publicly available.

When a Natrona County sheriff’s deputy pulled Bray over in January for speeding by about 7 mph on State Highway 220, she had about a kilogram of what appeared to be heroin in the rental car she was driving, authorities said in court documents filed shortly after the arrest.

When she was stopped, Bray told the deputy she was driving from Las Vegas to Minnesota. After a Casper police K9 alerted law enforcement to possible drugs, they searched the SUV. They found a 2.3-pound package and a presumptive test indicated heroin was present. She declined to talk further to police on the scene.

Bray pleaded guilty this summer in federal court to a single count of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin, which is about one-tenth of the total weight authorities said in the January documents the drug package weighed. The documents do not make clear the amount of the weight that was in the form of packaging.

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In a statement provided to the Star-Tribune, a representative for the Wyoming office of the Drug Enforcement Administration said Bray’s case is linked to a larger drug distribution scheme operating in Illinois.

In an overarching investigation, authorities to date have seized $1.5 million in cash suspected to be profits from drug sales and a combined 78 pounds of cocaine, methamphetamine, fetanyl and heroin, said David Tyree, the agency’s resident agent in charge of its Wyoming office. A total of 14 people have been arrested.

“Local law enforcement from Wyoming was critical to the operation,” Tyree said, noting collaboration with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, the Casper Police Department and the Rock Springs Police Department while investigating Bray. “We were able to prevent the distribution of one kilogram of heroin that would surely have polluted communities in Illinois and devastated people’s lives.”

Two men in August pleaded guilty to a single count each of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of one kilogram or more of heroin in a related case charged in Illinois federal court. Federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines call for them to each serve prison sentences of 10 years, according to court documents filed in the Chicago court. The disposition of the other 11 cases was not immediately clear Wednesday.

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Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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