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Press Release

Leader of Coles County Meth Trafficking Network Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

URBANA, Ill. – A Mattoon, Ill., man, Travis Tuggle, 38, has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his leadership role in a network that trafficked highly pure ‘ice’ methamphetamine in East Central Illinois. On Feb. 18, 2020, U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid sentenced Tuggle to the government’s recommended sentence, 360 months, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release upon completion of the prison term.

According to court documents and court findings, by conservative estimates, Tuggle, who pleaded guilty on Sept. 20, 2019, is responsible for the distribution of more than 45 pounds of highly pure ‘ice’ methamphetamine, valued at more than $1 million dollars at the time, to drug users in Coles County from late 2013 through early 2016. In 2013, when Tuggle began introducing ‘ice’ to this rural market, the meth available to most rural East Central Illinois users was typically impure locally manufactured methamphetamine.

Tuggle initiated his drug trafficking conspiracy while incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2012. Once released on parole, in April 2013, he began recruiting accomplices, several of whom had a history with manufacturing methamphetamine and knew local users in and around Coles County. Tuggle imported the methamphetamine to his Mattoon residence via drug couriers from Chicago. The couriers transported the methamphetamine from Chicago to Mattoon in spare tires and trap compartments, among other concealment methods. 

While his conspirators dealt methamphetamine at the wholesale and retail levels, Tuggle handled the money and dealt with his supplier and couriers. During the operation, Tuggle hired a woman to assist him in counting money from the drug sales. On at least 50 separate occasions, she counted between $6000 and $18,000 for Tuggle.

While Tuggle was the conspiracy’s central figure, several others assisted him in distributing the methamphetamine in Coles County. Those individuals, including Joshua Vaultonburg, Ryan Gaines, Casey Hughes, Brian Fuller, Anthony Gordon, Douglas Hatten, Timothy Whitmore, Clifford Colbert, and Juan Manuel Meza-Nunez, were charged and convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois for their roles in assisting Tuggle in this drug trafficking conspiracy.

These cases are the result of a Department of Justice task force investigation dubbed “Operation Frozen Tundra,” conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the East Central Illinois Task Force; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Illinois State Police; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; the Coles County Sheriff’s Office; the Mattoon Police Department; and the Charleston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bryan Freres and Paul Morris represented the government in the case prosecutions.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is a Department of Justice program that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

Updated February 26, 2020

Drug Trafficking