Operation targets methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution in galesburg area
More Arrests in “Operation Saddle-Up”
Galesburg, Ill. – An ongoing cooperative and coordinated effort known as “Operation Saddle-Up,” that targets methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution in west central Illinois, has expanded its reach to Knox county with the federal indictment of 14 more defendants. The defendants, named in a federal indictment unsealed yesterday, are charged with a single count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.
This indictment raises the number of defendants charged to 38, as a result of “Operation Saddle-Up.” Federal charges were brought against the first 14 defendants nearly one year ago, in January 2011, related to meth manufacturing and distribution primarily in the McDonough and Fulton county area. In August, 10 more defendants were arrested and charged.
Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, today joined Galesburg Police Chief David Christensen; Knox County Sheriff David Clague; Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer; and Rene Sandoval, Director of the Multi-county Narcotic Enforcement Group, known as PMEG, to announce the arrests and charges.
The indictment, returned last month but sealed pending the defendants’ arrests, alleges that beginning in summer 2009 and continuing to January 2011, the defendants conspired together and with others to manufacture and distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine in Knox county.
Defendants charged who were arrested yesterday are scheduled to appear this afternoon in federal court in Peoria before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman. Those charged include:
- Derek A. Bearce, 31, of Knoxville, Ill.;
- Joseph P. Evans, 30, of Abingdon;
- Richard Pinkowski, 28, of Altona;
- Jason R. Lyons, 38, of Cuba;
- Adam R. Faull, 45, of Galesburg;
- Maurice R.D. Gryp, also known as Willie J. Kelso, of Galesburg, (previously in custody);
- Mickey J. Huber, 37, of Galesburg, (previously in custody);
- Dustin M. Baker, 24, of Hannibal, Mo;
- Jeremy S. Larson, 30, of Galesburg, (previously in custody);
- Eric L. Webster, 28, of Galesburg;
- Casey L. Goff, a.k.a. Casey L. Clayton, 26, of Abingdon;
- Rebecca I. Muckey, 23, of Wataga;
- Tracy R. Yoder, 31, of Knoxville; and,
- Taylor J. Petty, 19, of Knoxville.
If convicted, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, carries a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years to life in prison. If a defendant has one prior felony drug conviction, the mandatory minimum penalty is enhanced to 20 years to life in prison. With two or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty is life in prison without parole.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Law enforcement agencies that assisted the investigative agencies in making the arrests include the U.S. Marshals Service; Illinois State Police; the Peoria City Police Department; and the Abingdon Police Department.
Among those previously charged related to “Operation Saddle-Up” in the Galesburg area is Chad M. Vanvoltenburg, 38, of Galesburg. Vanvoltenburg was arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint in February 2011, with Amy Vanvoltenburg, 24; Christine Vanvoltenburg, 50, and Ashley F. Wilson, 22. In March 2011, the grand jury indicted Chad Vanvoltenburg and he pled guilty on June 22, 2011, to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing for Chad Vanvoltenburg is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2012.
Amy and Christine Vanvoltenburg, as well as Wilson, were among those charged who were accepted by the court to enter the Pretrial Alternatives to Detention Initiative (PADI). Drug defendants charged in the Peoria division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office may apply, with the concurrence of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to the court to participate in this drug treatment program. Participants are also required to cooperate with the government. Defendants who successfully complete the program, which typically runs one to two years, are then sentenced by the court.
James A. Lewis
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