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Eight Defendants Appear in Federal Court Charged with Manufacture of Methamphetamine in McDonough County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2011

Peoria, Ill. – Eight defendants made initial appearances in federal court this afternoon after being charged with manufacture of methamphetamine in McDonough county, Illinois. The defendants, arrested yesterday, are the first to face federal charges in an ongoing cooperative investigation known as “Operation Saddle Up,” to target increased methamphetamine activity in west central Illinois communities.

“We have a partnership with McDonough county law enforcement, in order to support their fight against methamphetamine and the terrible damage that it brings,” said Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with county law enforcement, because they know the community and they know how we can help.”

McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker stated, “Meth’s insidious dangers are already well-known. Federal penalties, which provide a strong deterrence, add another element to our united offense against a recent resurgence in meth activity in the area.”

The defendants appeared in federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman in Peoria. Five of the defendants are charged in indictments returned last week by a federal grand jury but sealed pending their arrest and court appearance:

Ashley Dawn Alexander, 23, of the 200-block of N. Sullivan St., in Industry, IL, and Justin E. Cox, 27, of the same address, are charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine from May 2010 to September 2010, and with one count of manufacture of methamphetamine in September 2010;
Adam John Barcroft, 27, of the 300-block of N. 1st St., Monmouth, is charged in a separate indictment with manufacture of methamphetamine in October 2010; and,
Billy J. Dewein, 34, of the 300-block of Debbie St., Colchester, and Crystal Amanda McDowell, 28, of the same address, are charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine from November 2009 to April 2010, and with one count of manufacture of methamphetamine in April 2010.

Three defendants are each charged with one count of manufacture of methamphetamine from May 2010 to September 2010 in separate criminal complaints:

  • Jessyca A. Cale, 27, of the 400-block of E. Main St., Industry, IL;
  • Christina Danielle Demaree, 37, of the 16000 block of N. 700th Road, Macomb; and,
  • Molly M. Rusher, 29, of the 700-block of E. Adams St., Blandinsville.

If convicted, the statutory penalty for each count of manufacture of methamphetamine is five to 40 years in prison; if a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty increases to 10 years to life in prison. If convicted of conspiracy to manufacture five or more grams of methamphetamine, the statutory penalty is a mandatory minimum five years in prison and up to 40 years in prison; if a defendant has a prior felony drug conviction, the mandatory sentence is 10 years and up to life in prison.

The charges are the result of investigations by the Macomb Police Department; Bushnell Police Department; Colchester Police Department; Blandinsville Police Department and the McDonough County Sheriff’s Office. These agencies were assisted in making the arrests by the Pekin Police Department; Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tate Chambers in cooperation with the McDonough County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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