Police officers from multiple agencies in this area rounded up 21 people Wednesday accused in a large-scale methamphetamine conspiracy.
The suspects from Franklin and Jefferson counties were part of a methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution network that was in operation over a two-year period, authorities allege.
Federal grand jury indictments allege that the defendants were involved in a conspiracy to manufacture over 50 grams of methamphetamine in St. Louis and Franklin counties as early as January 2009, and continuing though July 2011.
The indictments were issued by a federal grand jury May 16, but remained sealed until the arrests of the defendants Wednesday by officers with multiple law enforcement agencies including the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit and Kirkwood and Pacific police departments.
“The arrests of these individuals signal the destruction of a drug distribution network that poisoned the community with their methamphetamine sales and damaged the environment by the careless disposal of hazardous chemicals” stated James Shroba, acting special agent in charge of the DEA St. Louis Division.
“The charges alleged in this case highlight the continuing problem of clandestine laboratories in Missouri,” said Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, commander of Franklin County’s drug task force. Grellner thanked state and local law enforcement, the DEA and the U.S. attorney’s office for their investigation and prosecution of this case.
Detective Cpl. Scott Briggs of the task force said all of the cases are related. Some of the suspects obtained illegal amounts of pseudoephedrine, the vital ingredient needed to manufacture meth, and delivered it to others who were manufacturing the drug.
“We worked with St. Louis County police and other agencies and came up with these suspects,” Briggs said.
The following suspects were arrested on the federal indictments:
Jerry A. Hendrickson, 27, Franklin County; Jerry M. Walling, 48, Catawissa; Jason S. Sparks, 32, Villa Ridge; Dale M. Harris, 44, Pacific;
Ethan M. Lepinski, 47, Pacific; William L. McKinney, 21, Pacific; Elaine M. Scroggs, 23, Pacific; Miranda J. Everhart, 21, Pacific; Aaron A. Lyerla, 33, Arnold;
Larry R. Collier, 40, St. Clair; Tammy L. Busch, 41, Pacific; Andrea R. Dowling, 28, Villa Ridge; Michael S. Pich, 32, Villa Ridge;
Michelle A. Sizemore, 37, Fenton; Ann L. Matchell, 47, Labadie; Shelly M. Peterman, 42, Villa Ridge; Douglas E. Hughes, 29, Pacific;
Amy N. Bueker, 25, Pacific; Sarah A. Matchell, 23, Labadie; Eric E. Lyerla, 37, Pacific; and Angela J. Holley, 33, Arnold.
If convicted, conspiracy to manufacture in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine carries a penalty range of five to 40 years in prison; possession of pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty, the U.S. attorney’s office noted.