Feds release out-of-state drug smugglers to the Keys

Two convicted drug dealers with no apparent connection to South Florida or the Keys were recently released from federal prison and sent to Monroe County.

Daniel Davis, 62, was released from prison on Oct. 7. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in 2008, a year after he was found working in a hotel bar in the Margarita Islands in Venezuela. He had fled the United States in 1994 after being arrested on marijuana and methamphetamine smuggling charges. 

According to court documents, Davis, who was living in Las Vegas on parole for federal tax offenses, began smuggling meth and pot to a group of people in Rapid City, S.D., in late 1993 into early 1994. 

Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office deputies in Deadwood, S.D., arrested Davis in March 1994. He made bail and left the country. A federal grand jury indicted Davis in 1998. 

According to a 2007 U.S. Marshals Service press release, Davis first went to Mexico. 

After the indictment, U.S. federal agents and Mexican cops closed in on him, but he was able to escape to Venezuela, where he was eventually captured. 

On Nov. 3, federal Judge Karen E. Schreier ordered the transfer of jurisdiction for his supervised release from South Dakota to Key West. 

Annette Lima, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, could not be reached for comment on why Davis and Kenneth James Skaggs, another convicted drug smuggler who didn’t live here and was not arrested in the Keys, were released in Monroe County this month.

On March 14, 2012, around 6:15 p.m., Skaggs, 36, was driving his GMC Yukon Denali pickup truck through Patagonia, Ariz., east toward the town of Sonoita. Both towns are  in Santa Cruz County, which borders the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora. 

A U.S. Forest Service ranger pulled Skaggs over and asked him to turn off his truck. Instead, Skaggs drove off, trailed by other Forest Service agents, as well as agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Using a strip of metal spikes, Border Patrol agents flattened Skaggs’ tires. 

But the chase didn’t end there. Skaggs ran off into the desert around 7 p.m. Border Patrol agents followed his footprints in the sand for about four hours before they caught up to him. He was armed with a Glock 9 mm pistol and two loaded magazines. 

According to an April 12, 2012, grand jury indictment, Skaggs had good reason for not wanting to be stopped. Agents found 16 bundles of marijuana with a total weight of 180 kilograms, or almost 400 pounds, in the back of the pickup. 

Skaggs pleaded not guilty on April 27, 2012, but changed his plea on June 7, 2012, to guilty to possession with intent to distribute 180 kilograms of marijuana. 

On Sept. 13, 2013, federal Judge Raner C. Collins sentenced Skaggs to two and a half years in prison, with credit for time served. He is then to serve 36 months of supervised release. 

At press time, it wasn’t clear where Skaggs served his time, but he was released from prison on Oct. 2. And, as in Davis’ case, he will serve his supervised release in Monroe County.