Five Indicted For Distributing Methamphetamine On Minnesota’s Iron Range
MINNEAPOLIS—A federal indictment recently unsealed charges four men and one
woman with distributing methamphetamine in northern Minnesota. The indictment, which was
originally filed on February 14, 2012, charges Antonio Chavez Aguirre, Jr., age 29, of Balsam
Lake, Wisconsin; David Michael Cook, age 38, and Trisha Nicole Cullen, age 28, both of
Hibbing; David Richard DeKing, age 54, of Carlton; and Shad Daniel O’Neil, age 33, of Grand
Rapids, with one count of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
In addition, Aguirre Jr., Cook, and DeKing were charged with one count of possession with
intent to distribute 50 or more grams of methamphetamine; Cullen and O’Neil were charged
with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and O’Neil was
charged with one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. The indictment was unsealed
on February 17, 2012, following the defendants’ initial appearances in federal court.
The indictment alleges that from spring of 2011 through January 26, 2012, the defendants
conspired with each other and others to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine. It
also alleges that the defendants possessed with intent to distribute methamphetamine (O’Neil
on August 23, 2011; Cook on November 4, 2011; Cullen on November 17, 2011; DeKing on
January 3, 2012; and Aguirre, Jr., on January 26, 2012). In addition, on November 7, 2011,
O’Neil allegedly possessed two handguns.
Because O’Neil has been previously convicted of a felony, he is prohibited under federal
law from possessing firearms at any time. His prior convictions include fifth-degree sale of
marijuana in 1996, first-degree burglary in 1997, issuance of dishonored checks in 2001, and
conspiracy to offer forged checks in 2001, all of them occurring in St. Louis County. In
addition, O’Neil has been convicted in Pine County for a second-degree controlled substance
offense (2003) and Itasca County for a fifth-degree controlled substance offense (2009).
If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of life in prison for
conspiracy. Possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams carries a potential maximum
penalty of 40 years in prison, while possession with intent to distribute under 50 grams carries a
potential maximum penalty of 20 years. In addition, O’Neil faces a potential maximum penalty
of ten years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. All sentences will be
determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is the result of an investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement
Administration, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Boundary Waters Drug
Task Force, and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (Wisconsin). It is being prosecuted by
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Hollenhorst.
An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.