9 meth-ring members plead guilty, including leader

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) Members of what federal prosecutors call a big Idaho methamphetamine ring pleaded guilty to drug-related charges.

U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson said Thursday that nine people acknowledged their involvement in a meth-dealing operation centered on Idaho Falls between 2005 and early 2012, when they were arrested.

Another five people are scheduled to enter guilty pleas in January in U.S. District Court in the case that revolved around ringleader Samuel Nevarez-Ayon, a 26-year-old from Rexburg, Idaho.

Prosecutors say he directed an operation that included money laundering and making false loan applications to banks to hide the proceeds from drug deals.

Nevarez-Ayon faces at least 20 years in prison and a possible $2 million fine.

Numerous charges were filed earlier this year after a nine-month investigation involving local, state and federal authorities.