Final defendant in Duluth area meth distribution ring sentenced to prison

A Duluth man was sentenced to 170 months, or just over 14 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for his role in a meth distribution conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger. 

According to court documents, Evan Andrew Lautigar, 33, and his co-conspirators Matthew James Cuypers, 41, John Arvid Sundquist, 34, and Jacob Lee Kivela-Sandnas, 34, arranged to drive to California to buy methamphetamine from a supplier and transport it back to Minnesota for distribution in and around the Duluth area.

According to court documents, in early 2022, the DEA began investigating a drug trafficking organization operating in the Duluth area. The investigation revealed that in February 2022, Cuypers was en route from California to Minnesota after picking up a load of methamphetamine. A South Dakota Highway Patrol officer conducted a traffic stop of a 2011 Kia Sorrento for a speeding violation. Cuypers was the driver and Sundquist was the passenger. A search of the vehicle revealed approximately 27 pounds of methamphetamine.

On April 7, 2022, deputies with the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop of a 2009 Mercedes Benz driven by Lautigar. Officers executed a previously obtained search warrant on the vehicle and recovered approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine.

All four defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and were sentenced by Judge Joan N. Ericksen.

Lautigar was sentenced on July 25, 2023, to 170 months in prison; Cuypers was sentenced on June 13, 2023, to 150 months in prison; Sundquist was sentenced on January 11, 2023, to 60 months in prison; and Kivela-Sandnas was sentenced on May 11, 2023, to 155 months in prison.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, the Duluth Police Department, and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.