New defendant pleads guilty in conspiracy involving $44 million in drug proceeds laundered to Mexico through local cell phone store fronts
CINCINNATI – Stacey Howell, 42, aka “Ice Queen”, of Cincinnati was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 240 months in prison for leading a drug trafficking organization that obtained high grade methamphetamine from Mexico and distributed it in southern Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Northeast Hamilton County Drug Task Force (DART), Harrison Police Chief Charles Lindsey, the Butler County Undercover Narcotics Unit (BURN), and the Gwinnett County, Georgia District Attorney’s Office announced the sentence imposed today U.S. District Judge Timothy Black.
Court documents say Howell and her husband, Thomas Wilson, 45, aka “Michalo”, acquired the drugs from sources in Mexico. Wilson was an associate of the Mexican Mafia, Surenos-13 and La Familia from Michoacan, Mexico. They built an organization that trafficked the drugs in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana beginning in 2012. She arranged for large quantities of meth to be delivered from Mexico to Texas, Georgia and elsewhere. Either she, her husband or another member of the organization would pick up the drugs and bring them back to the tri-state for distribution. Howell paid members of the organization with cash, green dot cards, trading memorabilia or with vehicles. Howell was the lead defendant in an indictment returned in 2015 charging 16 people with conspiracy and drug trafficking. Howell pleaded guilty March 9, 2018.
“Eight of the defendants have been sentenced so far and have received sentences ranging from one to 20 years behind bars,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “The severity of the sentences reflects the reach of the organization and the destructive impact drug trafficking organizations have on our region. Whether opioids, meth or other stimulants, we need to maintain the highest levels of vigilance about the foreign and domestic threat of illegal drugs.”
Wilson was sentenced to 20 years in prison on March 28, 2018. A third leader of the organization, Norman Kuhbander, 54, aka “Flacco” and “Stormin Norman”, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 22, 2018 to 180 months in prison. Kuhbander also forfeited ten firearms, three compound Bows, a Kevlar armor vest, and assorted ammunition.
“HSI is committed to eliminating criminal enterprises that peddle poison to the streets of Ohio; narcotics investigations now make up 50 percent of all HSI cases,” said Francis. “Joint investigations such as this disrupt and dismantle international drug trafficking operations from top to bottom and have an immediate positive impact on the community.”
Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the HSI offices in Cincinnati and Atlanta, the local agencies and task forces, and Criminal Chief Kenneth L. Parker and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Oakley, who represented the United States in the case.
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