A Cody man who was caught with 120 fentanyl pills last year — and suspected of possessing and distributing hundreds more — has been ordered to serve more than seven-and-a-half years in …
A Cody man who was caught with 120 fentanyl pills last year — and suspected of possessing and distributing hundreds more — has been ordered to serve more than seven-and-a-half years in federal prison.
Tucker D. Wirfel received the 92-month sentence on a felony count of possessing fentanyl with intent to distribute. U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl imposed the sentence on Monday in Casper.
It won’t be Wirfel’s last court appearance, either, as he continues to face additional drug-related charges in Park County; the counts allege he was involved in a meth deal south of Meeteetse in February.
Charging documents say agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation obtained evidence that Wirfel was distributing drugs late last year. In one text message exchange reviewed by agents, Wirfel appeared to be making arrangements to deliver fentanyl pills and meth to Cody from people in California and Cheyenne. Agents later obtained a warrant for Wirfel’s cellphone account and observed him offering to deliver fentanyl if there was a “big enough order.”
Special Agent Ryan Harnish got a warrant to search Wirfel’s apartment on Dec. 29 and found 124 fentanyl pills.
Wirfel reportedly told DCI that the drugs were what was left of a 750- to 1,000-pill shipment arranged weeks earlier by Jonathan Castillo. On Jan. 28, investigators intercepted one of Castillo’s shipments and “found a stuffed animal with 1,000 fentanyl pills stitched inside,” prosecutors said. That shipment formed the basis of the 29-year-old’s ultimate conviction for aiding and abetting the distribution of fentanyl.
The complaint that federal prosecutors filed against Castillo last winter remains under seal, leaving some details of his case unclear. In a Tuesday news release, however, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Castillo “admitted that he acted as the intermediary between the fentanyl distributors in Arizona and buyers in Wyoming.”
In October, Castillo received a 96-month prison sentence for a count of aiding and abetting the distribution of fentanyl (with credit for six months already served).
Wirfel apparently agreed to cooperate with DCI, but he was rearrested in February on allegations that he supplied meth to a Cody resident he was informing on. Federal prosecutors then took action on the December allegations.
Wirfel was released from jail in May to attend treatment, but was taken back into custody this month to await sentencing. According to a report from his pretrial services officer, Wirfel “participated in the sale of controlled substances, specifically methamphetamine and fentanyl pills” on Nov. 4.
Judge Skavdahl recommended that Wirfel be placed at a low-security correctional institution in Littleton, Colorado, or a medium-security institution in Sheridan, Oregon. He also recommended that the defendant participate in the Bureau of Prison’s 500-hour residential drug treatment program.
Once Wirfel gets out of prison, he’ll need to serve three years of supervised release and pay a $100 assessment and $500 in community restitution.
Wirfel is also facing felony counts of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance plus additional misdemeanors in Park County that all relate to an alleged delivery in February; in that case, Wirfel is alleged to have sold roughly a half-ounce of meth to 41-year-old Shane Scheid at the Gooseberry Creek Rest Area, who in turn is alleged to have brought some of the meth to Kelly Brainerd, 40. Both Scheid, who remains in custody, and Brainerd, who is out on bond, have pleaded not guilty.
After learning of the allegation that Wirfel was involved in a Nov. 4 drug deal, Deputy Park County Attorney Jack Hatfield moved to revoke his $10,000 surety bond and have the cash forfeited to the state.
In announcing Castillo’s and Wirfel’s sentences on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office described the co-defendants as having been involved in “a drug trafficking ring that was responsible for bringing large quantities of fentanyl into the Cody area.”
“This is an ongoing investigation with multiple people being investigated,” Lori Hogan, a spokeswoman for the office, added in an email.
Meanwhile, another Casper man, 30-year-old Albert R.J. Gaines, is facing felony counts of burglary and theft for allegedly breaking into Wirfel’s apartment shortly in late February or March.
According to charging documents, not long after Wirfel’s Feb. 28 arrest, someone broke out a window and stole thousands of dollars worth of items. A number of items were reported missing, but Cody Police Detective Scott Burlingame wrote that most were “high-end collectible sneakers,” including a pair valued at roughly $3,500.
Gaines was identified as a potential suspect and Burlingame said DCI believed “there was a possible drug [nexus] between Wirfel and Gaines.”
Gaines was arrested in Casper in March and a subsequent search of his vehicle and motel room reportedly turned up nearly 400 grams of apparent meth, almost 100 grams of fentanyl and records of apparent sales. That led to felony drug charges in Natrona County.
Casper police also spotted shoes and other items in Gaines’ motel room that Wirfel later identified as having been stolen from his apartment. That helped build the Park County case.
Court records show that Gaines picked up additional state and federal charges following two incidents in June, in which he was allegedly caught with drugs and multiple firearms — including a Glock 17 handgun that had been made fully automatic.
Gaines, who remains in custody at the Natrona County Detention Center, has yet to make an appearance on the Cody burglary allegations.
As for Wirfel, Park County prosecutors filed a motion Monday seeking to have him transferred from federal custody to the county for a Dec. 7 appearance in district court.