Six Additional Defendants Charged In “Operation Prarie Eagle”
Peoria, Ill. – A federal grand jury has returned indictments against six additional defendants as a result of “Operation Prairie Eagle,” a cooperative investigation targeting distribution of crack cocaine and marijuana in the Bloomington-Normal area. Fifteen defendants were previously indicted in May 2011.
The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Division, and the Normal Police Department, with assistance provided by the Bloomington Police Department; the McLean County Sheriff’s Office; the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.
Four defendants, Richard George Martin, 32, of Bloomington, Ill.; Shane C. Crawford, 30, of Streator, Ill.; Chad Joseph Graff, 35, also of Streator; and Alex William Guhlstorf, 39, of Normal, are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The one-count indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to the present and involved more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of Martin’s bank accounts and cash totaling approximately $107,059.
If convicted, the statutory mandatory minimum penalty for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana is 10 years to life in prison. If a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 20 years to life in prison. With two or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty is life in prison.
In a separate indictment, Kelsie Linea Thirtyacre, 26, currently of Las Vegas, previously of Springfield, Ill., and Julie Lynn Foster, 32, of Cicero, Ill., are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to Apr. 5, 2011, and involved more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The women also each face three additional charges of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
If convicted, conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years to life in prison; if a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 10 years to life in prison. For using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, the penalty is up to four years in prison.
The two indictments were returned yesterday; however, the charges had remained sealed pending the defendants’ arrests and court appearances today. Crawford, Graff, Guhlstorf, and Foster were arrested this morning and appeared in federal court in Peoria this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman. All were detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending hearings scheduled next week. Foster’s next hearing date is Oct. 6; hearings for Crawford, Graff and Guhlstorf are scheduled on Oct. 7. Martin, who is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, will appear at a later date. Thirtyacre was arrested this morning in Las Vegas, and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
James A. Lewis
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