Agents Arrest 17 People in Drug Trafficking Ring

Agents Arrest 17 People in Large-Scale Multi-State Drug Trafficking Ring Involving Fentanyl, Heroin, Crystal Methamphetamine and Firearms

ST. LOUIS (STL.News) This week the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Marshals Service, and United States Postal Inspection Service arrested 17 people in Missouri, Arizona, California, and Mexico linked to an organized multi-state drug trafficking conspiracy.

According to the previously sealed sixteen count indictment, returned on October 13, 2021, this was a long-running drug distribution conspiracy operating in the Eastern District of Missouri and with ties to California, Arizona, and Texas.  According to a court document, law enforcement officers seized items including: (1) approximately 50 pounds of fentanyl; (2) 500 pounds of methamphetamine; (3) 50 firearms; and (4) more than $400,000 in drug proceeds.

The conspiracy included the mailing and shipping of packages containing large amounts of the illegal drugs to be distributed in the St. Louis area and other cities in the United States.  Three defendants are also charged with firearms violations. Among the defendants indicted in this case are:

Stephen Griffin: M, St. Louis, 27

Kenny Thomas: M, St. Louis, arrested in Mexico, 38

Raymundo Deleon: M, in custody in Los Angeles, 40

Kyanna Canales: F, arrested in Phoenix, 19

Ariel Navarez-Gonzalez: M, arrested in Phoenix, 20

Troy Mills: M, St. Louis, 30

Arieawn Dillon: M, St. Louis, 26

Daveon Barnes: M, St. Louis, 27

Dalvin Wiley: M, St. Louis, 29

Crystal Miller: F, St. Louis, 27

Latoya Wilson: F, St. Louis, 40

Steven Hilliard: M, St. Louis, 30

Andrew Prout: M, in custody in Missouri, 28

Ariel Randall: F, St. Louis, 26

Jessica Alvarez: F, arrested in Los Angeles, 40

Larry Martinez-Soto: M, arrested in Phoenix, 24

Sanela Demirovic: F, St. Louis, 31

“The individuals arrested earlier this week for their involvement in drug related crimes and activities provide an example of the threat the drug industry imposes in our communities,” DEA St. Louis Division Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey said.  “The drug cell we dismantled with operations in various states in the United States and Mexico has no regard for the people around them and will take whatever actions necessary to protect their profit and themselves.

This fact is evident by the significant amount of drugs, weapons and money seized in the multi-state, multi-agency operation.  It’s important for everyone to keep in mind that no city is immune from the threat of drugs.  The only way we can keep our streets safe is by working together to educate those around us on the dangers of these illegal substances and the threat associated with them.”

For the past three years, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and its law enforcement partners have tenaciously investigated this multi-state drug trafficking network operated largely by violent gangs around the country,” stated Inspector in Charge William Hedrick who heads the Postal Inspection Service’s Chicago Division, which includes the St. Louis field office.  “The resulting indictment and arrests should serve as a warning to all criminals who see fit to utilize the U.S. Mail to conduct their illegal drug business.”

John Jordan, the United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri, provided the following statement: The United States Marshals Service serves as the United States Government’s primary fugitive investigation and apprehension agency.  Empowered through federal law, the USMS also serves as a charter agency within the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.

The focus of the USMS within the OCDETF program is to “destabilize and disrupt the most serious crime organizations through joint and collaborative fugitive investigations.” In this case, USMS personnel were contacted by our partner agencies, conducted fugitive investigations, and coordinated arrests across several metropolitan areas and with the assistance of multiple USMS investigative assets.  The USMS remains committed to the OCDETF goal of dismantling dangerous national-level drug trafficking organizations.

Charges set forth in the indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.  The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Marshals Service with assistance from officers at the following police departments: Bellefontaine Neighbors, Shrewsbury, St. Louis Metropolitan, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Ballwin and Maryland Heights.  This investigation was also supported by DEA’s Special Operations Division under Operation Isolated Culture.