The first of five defendants in a Casper-area methamphetamine ring was sentenced in federal court Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Skavdahl sentenced Julio Gasca-Nieto to 10 years of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy and distribution of more than 500 grams (17.9 ounces) of methamphetamine.

Gasca-Nieto, speaking through an interpreter, apologized to the United States, his wife and daughters.

"I shouldn't have gotten involved," he said while he was crying. "I had a good job."

Skavdahl acknowledged his remorse and tears, saying, "Mr. Gasca-Nieto, you have a soul."

Even though Gasca-Nieto grew up in poverty and his father was a drug dealer, Skavdahl told him that he made his own choices to bring multiple pounds of methamphetamine from Colorado to Casper.

The grand jury indictment handed down March 15 charged Gasca-Nieto and the others with multiple counts related to the conspiracy that operated from July 1, 2017 to March 15.

Trials were set for the defendants, but they changed their not guilty pleas.

Lead defendant Cindy Noella Williams pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In exchange for the plea, four other counts will be dismissed at her sentencing set for Sept. 26.

Michael "Mikey" Burton Lee Williams (no relation to Cindy Williams)  pleaded guilty June 19 conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. His sentence is set for Aug. 29.

Wednesday, William Floyd Hassock pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. In exchange for the plea, two counts of using a telephone to facilitate a drug offense will be dismissed at the sentencing scheduled for Sept. 27. Skavdahl said the federal sentencing guidelines suggest a prison term of at least 10 years one month.

Thursday, Michael "Deuce" Andrew Brisson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and he could face 12 years seven months imprisonment.

The case started last summer when the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation was investigating a drug trafficking organization in Wyoming and Colorado, according to an affidavit filed in Natrona County Circuit Court in January. The case later was turned over the Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office.

Cindy Williams, Michael Williams, Gasca-Nieto and Vanessa Saputra were identified among the alleged co-conspirators. (Saputra was not named in the federal indictment. Hassock and Brisson were named in the federal indictment, but not in Natrona County Court.)

After a controlled buy of methamphetamine from Saputra by an undercover agent in September, DCI agents interviewed her in October. After being read her rights, she said Cindy Williams and would either sell her or front her the drug in 1-ounce quantities at $300 per ounce.

Law enforcement agents surveilled Williams's house in east Casper, learned she would obtain methamphetamine in Denver, and re-distribute it in Casper and Cheyenne.

On Dec. 26, agents learned Cindy Williams had about $13,000 to buy about 2.5 pounds of the drug from Gasca-Nieto.

Later that day, agents saw Cindy Williams and Michael Williams, and Gasca-Nieto's wife  drove to parking lots at two east Casper fast food restaurants, where they appeared to exchange money and drugs. Gasca-Nieto's wife did not know of her husband's drug trafficking.

Law enforcement agents moved to arrest them.

Williams tried to drive away, but was blocked by vehicles of law enforcement. Williams ran, an officer took him down, and he told the officer he had a gun. After he was taken into custody, he was found to have a loaded .38 special revolver in his pants.