JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – A Columbia, Missouri man and two others have been indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana in Boone County, Missouri.
Eapen George Thampy, 35, of Columbia, Mo.; Craig Dewitt Smith, Jr., also known as “Carson,” 37, of Central Point, Ore.; and Michael John Ricketts, 57, of Union, Wash., and Kerrville, Texas; have been charged in a 13-count second superseding indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City, Mo., on Thursday, May 30. That indictment was unsealed and made public following the arrests and initial court appearances of Thampy and Smith. Thampy remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Wednesday, June 5.
Smith was originally charged in an April 24, 2019, complaint as part of an investigation into the drug-related homicide of Augustus Roberts on Dec. 11, 2017, in Columbia. According to court documents, Roberts was involved in trafficking high-grade marijuana, and was killed during a home invasion where approximately 800 pounds of high-grade marijuana was stolen from a U-Haul truck parked in his driveway. The U-Haul was driven from the scene by one of the suspects and abandoned at the end of the cul-de-sac a short distance away. Approximately 94 pounds of high-grade marijuana was recovered from the back of the U-Haul, and approximately 3,199 THC oil pens were recovered from a bedroom closet at Roberts’ residence and from the U-Haul.
Thampy, Smith, and Ricketts were added to an earlier superseding indictment that charged co-defendants Blake Jeffrey Johnson, 24, and his mother, Tamra Gene Johnson, 49, both of Columbia; Dylan James Blake, 29, of St. Louis, Mo.; and Christopher Michael Bradshaw, 25, of Harrisburg, Mo.
The federal indictment alleges that all of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana in Boone County and elsewhere from Jan. 1, 2015, to Sept. 1, 2018.
Blake and Tamara Johnson are charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy from Jan. 1, 2016, to Dec. 28, 2017. According to the indictment, Tamara Johnson used the proceeds of marijuana distribution to donate $1,000 to Better Way Missouri, a political action committee that supports marijuana legalization. The proceeds of marijuana distribution were also used to make cash payments to her credit cards, to purchase firearms and a flamethrower for Blake Johnson, and to make payments on his mortgage.
In addition to the conspiracy, Thampy and Smith are charged together in one count of possessing less than 50 kilograms of marijuana to distribute. Smith and Ricketts also are charged together in one count of possessing 100 kilograms or more of marijuana to distribute. Blake Johnson, Bradshaw and Smith also are charged together in one count of possessing 50 kilograms or more of marijuana to distribute.
Blake Johnson is also charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. He allegedly possessed a Glock .40-caliber pistol, a Ruger .38 Special revolver, a Glock 9mm pistol and a DP-123 12-gauge shotgun between Dec. 1, 2016, and Dec. 18, 2017.
Ricketts and Smith also are each charged with three counts of using a cell phone to facilitate the conspiracy; Blake is charged with one count of using a cell phone to facilitate the conspiracy.
The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy, including $55,690 seized by law enforcement officers on Dec. 11, 2017; $30,000 seized from Blake Johnson by law enforcement officers on Dec. 22, 2017; Blake Johnson’s residential property in Columbia; and five properties in Oregon.
The charges contained in this indictment 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.