A man federal officials described as "one of the biggest drug dealers in this state" was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball also provided a "backup" sentence for Irven Douglas Adams, 36, in the event that federal sentencing guidelines now being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court are deemed unconstitutional.
Adams, in a long and rambling statement to the court, argued against such a lengthy sentence, raised several procedural questions and said he "wanted to make a record."
The judge heard him out but told Adams that the issues he raised were either irrelevant or could be appealed to a higher court.
At Adams' request, the judge recommended the sentence be served at the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan.
Adams was the only one of 24 defendants caught in a major drug crackdown who opted to go to trial.
A jury in July convicted him of 17 criminal charges, including such things as distributing methamphetamine and laundering hundreds of thousand of dollars.
Of the 24 defendants originally indicated, two posted bond and fled. The others entered into plea agreements and have been sentenced to prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Lund later said that Adams was a ringleader in a huge drug distribution network that now has effectively been shut down.
Lund said Adams previously got methamphetamine from another man now in prison, Neils Orrin Yergensen, who brought drugs from southern California that had originated in Mexico into the Utah area.
However, Lund said Adams also had other sources for drugs and did such things as traffic in pseudoephedrine, a medication that can legitimately be used in over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, but which also can be combined with other things to make meth.
"He would trade it for other meth or provide it to 'cooks' here who would make meth for him," Lund said.
Lund said federal officials wanted to attack this drug operation in a top-to-bottom manner to cut off as much as the illegal drug supply in Utah as possible.
"It should have tremendous impact," Lund said. "Our goal is to make it as hard as possible to have access to drugs in Utah."