A Polk County man is among 18 defendants indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute more than 150 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than 10 kilograms of heroin, valued at more than $1.7 million.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Western District of Missouri, Justin Ren’e Ramirez, 24, of Bolivar was charged as part of a 25-count superseding indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The federal indictment alleges that all 18 defendants, including Ramirez, participated in a conspiracy from Jan. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2020, to distribute the methamphetamine and heroin.
All of the defendants are also charged in a money-laundering conspiracy involving the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy, the release said.
The indictment was unsealed and made public last week upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants, the release said. The superseding indictment replaces the original indictment returned in December 2019 and includes eight additional defendants and additional charges.
The defendants include Ramirez; Brian Douglas Smith, 42, Kamel Mahgub Elburki, 32, Ashley Brooke Clevenger, 38, Rachel Gale Simpson, 37, Daniel Jessie Ruiz, 36, Matthew John Fabulae, 31, and Ian Lee Cook, 27, all of Kansas City; Cory Matthew Jobe, 28, of Independence; Mary Ruth Craft, 42, of Gladstone; Tayler Charles Jones, 26, of Liberty; Ashley Anne Fries, 23, of Riverside; James Russell Schroeder, 47, of Marshfield; Michael Paul Lambert, 43, of Hartville; Seth Alan Turbyfill, 31, of Chillicothe; Amy Leann Nieman, 49, of Moorseville; and Richard Dean Saettone II, 39, and Megan Elizabeth (Lawson) Jackson, 27, addresses unknown.
Smith is the owner of Rockstar Burgers in Kansas City, the release said.
In addition to the drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracies, Ramirez, as well as Elburki, Jones, Simpson, Jobe, Ruiz, Fabulae, Saettone, Craft, Schroeder, Lambert and Jackson, is charged with one count of possessing 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one kilogram or more of heroin to distribute, the release said.
Twelve defendants — Ramirez, Smith, Elburki, Jones, Jobe, Ruiz, Fries, Fabulae, Saettone, Craft, Turbyfill and Nieman — are also charged with illegally possessing firearms in connection with their drug-trafficking crimes.
The release said Ramirez, Ruiz and Fabulae are each charged with being an unlawful user of controlled substances in possession of firearms and ammunition, while Elburkie, Jones, Jobe, Fries, Fabulae, Saettone, Craft, Turbyfill and Nieman are each charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
“The federal indictment also contains forfeiture allegations, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government all property derived from the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy, including a money judgment of $1,745,000,” the release said. “This sum, in aggregate, was received in exchange for, or is traceable thereto, the unlawful distribution of more than 150 kilograms of methamphetamine, based on an average street price of $250 per ounce, and the unlawful distribution of more than 10 kilograms of heroin, based on an average street price of $1,200 an ounce.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades, the release said. It was investigated by the Kansas City Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force
The release said this case is part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force program.
“The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy,” the release said.
The program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, the release said. Today, it combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement.
The release said the principal mission of the program is “to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic or national security of the United States.”