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20th person indicted in central Wisconsin meth conspiracy

in Investigations/Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

MADISON — A California man is the 20th person to be indicted in a massive meth trafficking conspiracy that resulted in federal prison sentences for six Wausau and seven Merrill suspects, according to a news release issued Thursday.

Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced today the unsealing of an indictment returned on May 11 by a grand jury sitting in Madison, which charges Marcos Castaneda, 37, of Pomona, California, with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. The indictment alleges that the conspiracy involved more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Local law enforcement authorities, along with the FBI, arrested Castaneda in California on May 19, 2017. Castaneda made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison on June 21, 2017. He is being detained in jail pending trial, which is currently set for December 11.

With this indictment, 20 people have now been charged as participants in this conspiracy which involved the trafficking of pure methamphetamine (also known as “Ice” or “crystal meth”). The methamphetamine came from the Pomona, California area and was then transported by drivers using rental cars to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, according to the complaint.

From there, the methamphetamine was distributed by an organized network of drug wholesalers and retailers in central Wisconsin. The methamphetamine was sold in Wisconsin communities, both large and small, including Wausau, Merrill, Medford, Abbotsford, Owen, Athens, Eau Claire, and Osseo.

The marketing plan of the organization was to flood these communities with inexpensive, pure, and plentiful methamphetamine, in an effort to create more addicts, and therefore more customers, according to the release.

The conspiracy operated from June 2013 to May 2016. During this time, methamphetamine was brought into Wisconsin from Minnesota on a weekly basis, averaging one pound per week. Demand exploded in late 2015 and early 2016, and the trafficking increased to two to three pounds per week. In all, over 58 kilograms (or 127 pounds) of methamphetamine were distributed by the members of this conspiracy. The methamphetamine had a street value of over $5.7 million dollars.

To date, 19 people have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Madison to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. All have been sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson. The sentences imposed against these 19 defendants total over 200 years in federal prison. Most recently, Christina Abbott and Daniel Graap, both of Merrill, were sentenced on June 30, 2017. Abbott received a sentence of 66 months in prison. Graap received a sentence of 120 months in prison.

The charges against these defendants are the result of an investigation conducted by the Wausau office of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office; the Wausau office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, Special Investigations Unit; the Wausau Police Department; and IRS Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.

Key court dates and sentences imposed:

NAME

AGE

ADDRESS

INDICTMENT DATE

PLEA DATE

SENTENCING DATE

SENTENCE IMPOSED

1. Andy Nelson

32

Merrill

3-9-16

9-14-16

12-7-16

4.5 years

2. Karen Zais

49

Merrill

3-9-16

9-14-16

11-29-16

6 years

3. Anthony Rogers

24

Athens

3-30-16

8-23-16

3-7-17

13.5 years

4. Joe Kujawa

37

Oakdale, MN

5-11-16

11-16-16

3-3-17

18 years

5. Kyle Quintana

24

Wausau

5-11-16

11-15-16

3-6-17

13 years

6. Jacob Loose

25

Wausau

5-11-16

10-28-16

1-9-17

15 years

7. Pat Keenan

30

Wausau

5-11-16

11-29-16

3-8-17

15 years

8. Jamie Pankow

33

Wausau

5-11-16

11-3-16

2-10-17

7 years

9. Paul Rasmussen

35

Osseo

6-1-16

10-28-16

1-10-17

15 years

10. Chris Schmeltzer

46

Merrill

6-1-16

10-27-16

2-9-17

6 years

11. David Brandenburg

26

Merrill

7-13-16

12-1-16

2-24-17

9 years

12. Matt Drake

26

Merrill

7-13-16

11-22-16

2-8-17

12 years

13. Ryan Thomas

24

Wausau

8-3-16

11-10-16

2-9-17

12.5 years

14. Jonas Ellwart

24

Wausau

8-3-16

1-25-17

4-12-17

10 years

15. Danny Graap

50

Merrill

8-24-16

2-3-17

6-30-17

10 years

16. Josh Graap

32

Merrill

8-24-16

1-31-17

4-12-17

6 years

17. Christina Abbott

34

Merrill

8-24-16

2-21-17

6-30-17

5.5 years

18. David Vance-Bryan

30

St. Paul, MN

9-14-16

11-17-16

2-16-17

11.5 years

19. Mike Kjonaas

41

St. Paul

9-14-16

2-10-16

4-27-17

11 years

2 Comments

  1. Real life evildoers. I like the sentences, they’d better serve every-single-minute (wishful thinking ). Sadly this is just the start. 😞 😠

    • Yeah, the sad truth is that the majority of them will probably be released in a couple of years for “good behavior”, which means they basically sat there doing their time. SMH

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