Jury Convicts St. Louis Man, Berkeley Woman of Drug Trafficking
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a St. Louis, Mo., man and a Berkeley, Mo., woman have been convicted by a federal trial jury of their roles in a drug-trafficking conspiracy after the man suffered a heroin overdose in a Columbia, Mo., hotel room.
Gustavo Ruvalcaba, 44, of St. Louis, and Jennifer Ann Foust, 29, of Berkeley, Mo., were found guilty of the charges contained in a Dec. 16, 2014, federal indictment. Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., deliberated for about two and a half hours on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, before returning the verdicts to U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough, ending a trial that began Monday, May 4, 2015.
Ruvalcaba and Foust each were found guilty of participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine and methamphetamine from July 2013 to July 2014. Ruvalcaba was also convicted of four counts of possessing heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine and methamphetamine, each with the intent to distribute, on July 14, 2014. Foust was also charged in the possession counts but the jury was unable to reach a verdict; the court declared a mistrial on those counts in regard to Foust.
Columbia police officers were dispatched to a room at the Super 8 Motel in response to a heroin overdose on July 14, 2014. Foust had called 911 for Ruvalcaba, who was lying on the floor and being treated by EMS and fire personnel when officers arrived. Officers executed a search warrant for the hotel room and seized 16.4 grams of black tar heroin, 6.6 grams of crack cocaine, 35.3 grams of powder cocaine, 11.6 grams of pure methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, seven cell phones and $78,525 divided up into 8 different manila envelopes and numerous piles.
St. Charles, Mo., police officers also had found Ruvalcaba and Foust together in an Embassy Suites hotel room about a year earlier, on July 10, 2013. Foust initially told officers that nobody else was in the hotel room, but they heard noises in the bathroom. Officers noticed drugs and drug paraphernalia scattered in plain view throughout the room and a large bundle of cash. The bathroom door was locked and they continued to hear sounds of plastic being rubbed together, water running and the toilet flushing. Officers believed evidence was being destroyed, so they jimmied open the bathroom door and found Ruvalcaba, who had two fists full of wet plastic baggies. Other wet baggies were found on the sink. Ruvalcaba was handcuffed and set in a chair.
When one of the officers turned around to speak to Foust, Ruvalcaba quickly ingested some of the 15.4 grams of methamphetamine that was being weighed on a digital scale found in the bedroom. Ruvalcaba, who had chunks of methamphetamine in his mouth and on his face and t-shirt, began to eat the methamphetamine at a fast pace and refused to spit it out. When asked why he had ingested the methamphetamine, Ruvalcaba stated, “You can’t charge me without any evidence.” Officers seized 9.6 grams of crack cocaine, 5.7 grams of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, five cell phones and $11,086 from the hotel room.
St. Charles police officers arrested Ruvalcaba and Foust again on Sept. 12, 2013, after their vehicle was pulled over on Interstate 70 for operating without proper registration. A K-9 walked around the vehicle and alerted to several areas of the vehicle, including the trunk. Officers found several syringes in a suitcase in the trunk.
Ruvalcaba and Foust were transported to the police station. While they were waiting in the holdover area, Ruvalcaba, whose right hand was handcuffed to the holding bench, reached with his free left hand to remove his shoe and retrieved a package of methamphetamine. Ruvalcaba threw the package of methamphetamine toward Foust, who pulled it toward her with her foot, placed it in her mouth and swallowed it. Officers ordered Foust to open her mouth and noticed a white residue on her tongue; officers also found methamphetamine on the floor where Foust was sitting.
Under federal statutes, Ruvalcaba is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 140 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $13 million. Foust is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $5 million. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart J. Zander and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the St. Charles City Police Department, the St. Charles County, Mo., Sherriff’s Department and the St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force.