Upper Peninsula Crystal Meth Dealers Imprisoned
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that several crystal methamphetamine dealers from the western part of the Upper Peninsula received long prison terms. The Honorable Paul L. Maloney, U.S. District Judge, issued the following sentences:
• Patrick Joseph Sievers, age 36, formerly of Ironwood, Michigan, sentenced to 264 months (22 years) in federal prison, followed by 8 years of supervised release;
• Kathryn Maria Hellen, age 27, formerly of Ironwood, Michigan, sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release;
• Jennifer Elizabeth Smith, age 29, formerly of Ontonagon, Michigan, sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release; and
• Dion Roy Jolliff, age 43, formerly of Ontonagon, Michigan, sentenced to 42 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
During the sentencing, the government’s attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat, noted that the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) has seen crystal methamphetamine ("meth") – a very pure form of the drug – emerge as one of the most commonly trafficked illegal drugs in the area. In addition, the government said that crystal meth dealers are frequently arming themselves for protection.
This case was no exception. Evidence obtained by UPSET showed that Sievers started selling crystal meth in Gogebic, Ontonagon and Houghton Counties in 2016. By the time of his arrest in March 2017, he had sold, by conservative estimates, between 1.5 and 4.5 kilograms of the drug. When UPSET detectives executed a search warrant at Sievers’ camp in Ontonagon, MI on March 30, 2017, they found what Judge Maloney later described as a "drug bunker" – complete with firearms loaded and readily available, motion detectors guarding the approaches to the camp, hidden safes, and a video surveillance system monitoring the doors. Sievers was arrested that same day in Ironwood. Detectives searched his truck and found 215 grams (about 8 ounces) of highly pure crystal meth and a loaded Glock .40 caliber handgun.
Jennifer Smith was arrested after she sold crystal meth on Sievers’ behalf in Ontonagon.
After Sievers’ arrest, UPSET shifted its investigation to other meth dealers in the area. UPSET purchased meth from Dion Jolliff on several occasions. Then Jolliff was found asleep at the wheel of a van owned by Hellen in the middle of an intersection in Ontonagon. Meth and drug paraphernalia were found in the van. Jolliff was arrested.
Hellen, who was previously in a relationship with Sievers, was the last person arrested in this case. Despite her awareness of the arrests of Sievers, Smith and Jolliff, she continued selling crystal meth. In October 2017, police searched her rental house in Ontonagon and found another 8 ounces of crystal meth and a loaded .357 caliber handgun. She was arrested and admitted making several trips to Wausau, Wisconsin to obtain multiple ounces of crystal meth per trip.
Lieutenant Tim Sholander, the UPSET commander, noted that UPSET "was created to reduce the amount of dangerous drugs that destroy our communities in the Upper Peninsula." Lt. Sholander also noted that the detectives assigned to UPSET’s western U.P. team were working to ensure that crystal meth traffickers "were brought to justice for their part in flooding the western part of the Upper Peninsula with crystal meth."
Michigan State Police Troopers and law enforcement officers from the Gogebic Iron-Area Narcotics Team assisted the UPSET investigation. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) forensic laboratory conducted analysis of the substances seized in this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat.