Thursday, January 17, 2013

DEA and State Police Bust Meth Ring

A San Clemente man, a Laguna Niguel woman and three Connecticut men were indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

According to a Wednesday news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a federal grand jury in Bridgeport, Conn. returned the indictment on January 15 following a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Connecticut State Police Department’s Narcotics Task Force.

The five indicted were Chad McCluskey, 43, of San Clemente; Kristen Laschober, 47, of Laguna Niguel and three Connecticut residents, Kevin Wallin, 61; Kenneth “Lyme” Devries, 52 and Michael Nelson, 40.

All were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams of actual methamphetamine.

The investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of methamphetamine, physical surveillance and an undercover officer, the release said.

Wallin was also charged with six counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine having allegedly received shipments of methamphetamine from California and then selling the drugs to an undercover officer six times between September 2012 and January 2013.

“This case is a model for cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agencies,” said David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut in the statement. “The hard work of the DEA and the Connecticut State Police in this case resulted in the dismantling of what we allege was a significant methamphetamine distribution organization that spanned from California to Connecticut.”

Wallin and Devries were arrested January 3, the same day authorities found suspected methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and drug packaging materials during a court-authorized search of Wallin’s home.

McCluskey and Laschober were arrested in Las Vegas on January 10.

Nelson was arrested Tuesday after the indictment was returned.

All five defendants are currently detained and the investigation is
ongoing.

If convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams of actual methamphetamine, all of the defendants will face a minimum prison term of 10 years, a maximum life term and a fine of up to $10 million.

If convicted of the charge of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, Wallin faces a maximum 20-year term and a fine of up to $1 million for each count.

According to the release, Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt and charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

- By Andrea Swayne