JACKSON — Jackson resident Bryan Jones has been the subject of a federal investigation for five years for running what officials are calling a large drug trafficking organization.
Recently unsealed court documents in the U.S. District of Wyoming reveal more details about the accusations against Jones, who was arrested last week near his South Park home by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Jones and his brother-in-law Jeffrey Fillers, of Missouri, are charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder “monetary instruments,” or money laundering. Fillers is listed as an investor and owner in Melvin Brewing Eureka, according to City of Eureka meeting minutes for a special use permit for Melvin’s newest Eureka-based microbrewery.
“On Oct. 31, 2016, an investigation was initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration into the Jones Drug Trafficking Organization,” court documents state. “Information received from law enforcement sources in Jackson, Wyoming indicated that Jones was trafficking large quantities of marijuana in the Jackson, Wyoming, area.”
Investigators have been surveiling Jones’ South Park house and tracking flight records and bank accounts, according to court records.
“In August 2018 investigators learned that Jones was utilizing his brother-in-law Fillers to launder proceeds from the sale of marijuana through Fillers’ business, Jeffrey Fillers Homes LLC,” documents state. “Jones paid different individuals to transport money and marijuana across the country. Jones had been utilizing a transportation company to transport marijuana.”
In March investigators analyzed financial documents from Wells Fargo and saw two $5,000 wire transfers made from a “co-conspirator” into a First Community National Bank account owned by Fillers Homes.
Investigators said Jones then instructed the co-conspirator to not use wire transfers.
“Jones indicated in a text message that sending a wire is a paper trail,” documents state. “Jones told co-conspirator 4 in another text message that co-conspirator 4 could pay via Apple Pay and gave co-conspirator 4 a phone number to make a payment to.”
Federal agents say Jones’ drug cartel is also tied to a 2014 bust in Lincoln, Nebraska, that ended in the seizure of $189,000 and 400 pounds of marijuana from a grow operation in Williams, Oregon.
The co-conspirator said the money was profit from a sale of marijuana in Albany, New York.
Federal agents also seized $519,000 from an aircraft in Evanston in 2015. The pilot, also identified as a co-conspirator, said Jones was a marijuana distributor from Jackson.
“Co-conspirator stated that Jones lived in Jackson, Wyoming, and owned a restaurant there,” records state.
Jones’ “significant other,” Amy Young, was the proprietor of Lotus Organic Cafe, records state.
Lotus closed in August 2018 amid a legal fight with Serenity Development, which remodeled the North Cache space. Serenity’s president claimed Young never paid for the work, a $138,059 invoice.
Young is not facing any criminal charges and investigators made no other mention of Lotus in court documents.
On Dec. 10, Jones, 45, was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
The investigation spanned many states and many organizations, including the Jackson Police Department and Teton County Sheriff’s Office.
It used “undercover operations” and hundreds of hours of manpower, Jackson Chief of Police Todd Smith said.
Some residents who witnessed Jones’ arrest just before 9 a.m. Dec. 10 were outraged that he was pulled over near a school zone.
“To have ‘several hundred hours into the investigation’ and then plan a major bust of someone the police obviously thought was dangerous enough that they needed to drive the opposite direction on the road, have at least four cars involved in the school zone, is just ludicrous,” parent James Miller said.
Miller was dropping his kids off at school nearby when he witnessed the traffic stop. (See his letter to the editor on page 33.)
Drug Enforcement Administration Supervising Agent in Charge David Tyree said Jones’ arrest happened where it did because of tactical operations.
“That is where he decided to pull over,” Tyree told the News&Guide. “My number one concern is the safety of the community and the law enforcement I supervise and there was no deliberate effort to jeopardize that.”
Although unable to comment on the ongoing investigation, Tyree said the DEA’s mission is to “disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations” and that this investigation is within the mission.
More details about the investigation will be released by law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office once the case is adjudicated.
Jones appeared before a federal judge in Cheyenne last week. He was then released from custody to await trial.