In the wake of an outbreak of overdoses in the Springfield area, federal prosecutors have filed charges against 20 people in connection with the distribution of heroin and fentanyl.
Federal officials say most of the twenty were arrested during a coordinated law enforcement sweep starting on Thursday, November 14 and running through the weekend.
“These criminal complaints reflect a tremendous commitment in time and resources on the parts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Springfield Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, and the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office in addressing the serious problem of heroin/fentanyl distribution in Springfield and Greene County,” U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said in a statement. “They are a significant step in working to make this area safer and to protect citizens from the danger this type of criminal activity poses.”
The DEA teamed with local law enforcement to begin an investigation into a drug-trafficking organization in June 2019. The investigations reported that heroin and fentanyl was being sold to Springfield residents by suppliers from Chicago and St. Louis.
Local law enforcement leaders praised the work of the partnerships.
“I’m grateful for the law enforcement partnerships we have that enable us to bring together the resources needed to effectively address significant crime, health, and safety issues such as this,” Chief Paul Williams of the Springfield Police Department said in a statement. “The recent spike in drug overdoses raised public awareness of the extent of the problem we face in our community, and this investigation highlights our efforts to combat it-at the source.”
“I appreciate all of our partners joining together to go after these drug dealers and bring justice to these individuals plaguing our streets with these lethal drugs,” Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said.
Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson thanked the U.S. Attorney for seeking federal charges.
“I am proud to be in partnership with the law enforcement agencies of southwest Missouri,” Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said. “I want to thank U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison and his office for pursuing these federal charges. As we have done in the past, our agencies have come together to combat a serious criminal problem. These complaints are a reflection of the outstanding law enforcement collaboration that goes on behind the scenes every day protecting our community.”
Here are those arrested in the sweep:
Wheeler, et al.
Jerry Bedell, 29, his father, Jerry Wheeler, 44, his significant other, Bethany Rice, 28, all of Springfield, Missouri, and his mother, Nichole Bedell, 48, of Nixa, Missouri; Sheron Loggins, 46, of Florissant, Missouri; Delante Worsham, 34, Crystal J. Hill, 23, William Leath, 44, Marquise Martin, 29, and Robin Roberts, 50, all of Springfield, were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and/or fentanyl.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, Loggins was the source for Wheeler and Jerry Bedell to obtain heroin or fentanyl. Nichole Bedell, Rice, Worsham, Leath, Martin, and Roberts allegedly obtained heroin or fentanyl from Jerry Bedell or Wheeler for further distribution. Hill received heroin or fentanyl from Worsham for further distribution.
A Phelps County, Mo., sheriff’s deputy stopped Loggins on Interstate 44 on Sept. 8, 2019, while he was traveling toward Springfield. The deputy seized approximately 496 grams of heroin from Loggins’ vehicle. In another incident, Worsham was stopped by a Springfield police officer, who searched his vehicle and seized 21.5 grams of fentanyl.
Burkes, et al.
Myron C. Burkes, 32, of Springfield, and Devonte A. Smith, 23, and Danjouna A. Wiggins, 24, both of Chicago, were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and/or fentanyl from Sept. 23 to Oct. 24, 2019.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Smith provided heroin and/or fentanyl to Burkes, who distributed in the Springfield area. Smith allegedly coordinated the delivery of the illegal drugs to Burkes by couriers, including Wiggins, who was Smith’s significant other. Wiggins was intercepted at a St. Louis bus station, the affidavit says, while carrying illegal drugs from Chicago en route to Springfield to deliver to Burkes.
Brittany N. Morales, 27, of Springfield, was charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and/or fentanyl from Sept. 23 to Nov. 12, 2019.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, after Danjouna Wiggins was intercepted at a St. Louis bus station, Myron Burkes drove to Chicago with Morales and another person to purchase heroin/fentanyl. (Burkes and Wiggins are charged in a separate complaint.) Burkes’ vehicle was stopped on Nov. 11, 2019, during the return trip from Chicago to Springfield. Law enforcement officers found approximately 237 grams of heroin/fentanyl hidden in Morales’ boots.
Dailey, et al.
Derrick E. Dailey, 33, William C. Farisse, 33, Roderick L. Stewart, 34, and Robert D. Everette, 40, all of Springfield, were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and/or fentanyl.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Dailey was the source who supplied Farisse and Stewart with heroin/fentanyl for further distribution in the Springfield area. Farisse allegedly supplied Everette with heroin/fentanyl to further distribute. A
Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Farisse’s residence on June 8, 2018, and he was arrested. Officers seized 16 plastic bags that contained a total of 205.58 grams of fentanyl. Farisse told officers he purchased the six ounces of heroin/fentanyl for $10,000, the affidavit says, and expected to make $10,000 in profit after selling it. Farisse explained that he would sell one tenth of one gram for $20. Farisse also told officers he had been selling approximately six ounces per week for the past month.
According to the affidavit, Farisse fled from law enforcement officers during a traffic stop on March 27, 2018. Farisse told officers he threw approximately six ounces of heroin/fentanyl from the vehicle during the pursuit. Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers recovered a sock containing the heroin/fentanyl following the pursuit.
Everette told officers he purchased heroin for $100 per gram, and sold between two and four grams of heroin per day. Farisse allegedly had been cutting his heroin with fentanyl to make the drug more potent.
McDonald, et al.
Crystal D. McDonald, 28, and Latoya W. O’Connor, 28, both of Springfield, were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin from July 15 to Sept. 18, 2019.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, O’Connor sold a confidential source four grams of heroin for $520 on July 19, 2019. McDonald sold an undercover officer 12 grams of heroin for $1,500 on Sept. 18, 2019, after meeting with O’Connor.
The charges contained in these complaints are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Byron H. Black and Josephine L. Stockard and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Keller. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, the Springfield, Missouri, Police Department, the Greene County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Department, the Phelps County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Illinois State Police.