TOPEKA — Local and federal law enforcement authorities Wednesday announced the indictment of 54 people in a drug-trafficking ring in Manhattan.
That ring, with suppliers tracked back to Chicago, was responsible for distributing heroin, fentanyl, ecstasy, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, cocaine and marijuana in the Manhattan area, the authorities said. U.S. Attorney for Kansas Stephen McCallister called it the “largest takedown” his office had ever conducted.
Six dealers are charged in particular with causing the death in September 2017 of Maxwell F. Dandaneau, an 18-year-old student at Kansas State University, at an off-campus apartment. He was found in the 1100 block of Pioneer Lane, according to police.
McAllister said the young man, who had attended Eisenhower Middle School and Manhattan High and was the son of an administrator at K-State, was trying heroin for the first time and was unaware that it was laced with fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic more powerful than heroin.
That death followed by about a month the beginning of a criminal investigation by the Riley County Police Department into the network, according to Capt. Tim Hegarty. The investigation was able to tie the death to that drug ring. Blake Woodward, 23, is charged with directly distributing the fentanyl that caused his overdose; others charged in the conspiracy include Henry Clark, 42; Sylvester Calvert, 31, of Manhattan; Michael Calvert, 28, of Manhattan; and James Toliver, 39, of Manhattan.
Hegarty said other deaths may be related to the drug ring, including people who were both users and dealers, but authorities provided no other details on that.
The distribution ring, authorities said, was basically one organization with a hierarchy that traced back to Chicago, with supply lines from Mexico and China.
A statement released at the time of the announcement in Topeka says: “Law enforcement officers called the investigation Operation Chicago Connection, based on the fact that in 2016 investigators began to hear talk on the streets of this college town about traffickers who some sources called ‘the Chicago Boys.’ In the following months, investigators worked to get a clearer picture of what was going on. What they learned was that some traffickers were making regular trips to Chicago to bring back heroin, fentanyl and other drugs.”
Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson said that some of the members of the ring have lived here for 20 years. RCPD Director Dennis Butler said that a case that became this large required help from federal authorities.
Authorities at the press conference Wednesday at a federal office building in Topeka were quick to say that the major bust did not indicate that Manhattan had some unusually large drug problem. The cops routinely bust drug dealers in metro markets around the state, but not in one coordinated effort. As McAllister said, police and prosecutors in his case were “able to get our arms around it” in Manhattan, and had “an opportunity to really clean out a city.”
“Manhattan I don’t think is unique,” said Skip Jacobs, assistant U.S. Attorney. “It just so happened that law enforcement was in the right place at the right time.”
Butler said that police would remain vigilant for whatever drug suppliers step in to fill the void. He credited a “team effort” at the RCPD and with the other agencies in cracking the case.
Roughly 35 people were arrested Tuesday as law enforcement authorities served arrest warrants and search warrants in Topeka and Manhattan. Defendants were expected to begin making initial appearances in federal court in Topeka on Wednesday. The arrests stem from 13 separate indictments.
Federal authorities, including the Drug Enforcement Administration office in St. Louis and the FBI, were in on the case. Their representatives also emphasized the danger of fentanyl in particular, saying it’s being mixed into other drugs at levels that could be lethal. They asked for the public’s help in combatting that problem.
Here are the details of the arrests and indictments:
Indictment No. 1 (Nine defendants, conspiracy, overdose death, heroin, fentanyl, and marijuana, $30,000 forfeiture)
Henry Clark, 42
Sylvester Calvert, Jr., 31, Manhattan.
Michael Calvert, 28, Manhattan.
James Toliver, 39, Manhattan.
Blake Woodward, 23
Kimberly Obrecht, 33
Robert Houston, Sr., 39
Prianna Baggett, 24, Manhattan.
Jeremy Richmond, 27
Indictment No. 2 (Five defendants, heroin, fentanyl, firearms, $30,000 forfeiture)
Kevin Henderson, 48, Topeka
Kenneth Shorter, 57, Manhattan.
Wayne Ingram, 24
Quinton Shorter, 65, Manhattan.
Shirley Moton, 60, Manhattan.
Indictment No. 3 (21 defendants, methamphetamine, heroin firearms, $50,000 forfeiture)
Dontae Patterson, 39
Michael Walker, Jr., 26
Joseph Hammond, 48, Manhattan.
Dawn Cyphers, 41
Paul Goodman, III, 48, Junction City
Sasha Soules-Jones, 31
Deanna Curry, 44
Henry Jones, 33
Reginald Carter, 35
Earnest Johnson, 55, Manhattan.
Mercyjazz Goodridge, 25, Manhattan.
Derrick Blea, 26
Jacob Alexander, 25, Manhattan.
Scott Alexander, 25
Austin Rowzer, 26
Jerome Glaspie, 48
Taylor Hodges, 21
John Leroy Cody Deem, 28
Elizabeth Hoover, 27 Manhattan.
Nicholas Hodges, 26, Saint George.
Luke Johnson, 56
Indictment No. 4
(Seven defendants, heroin, $30,000 forfeiture)
Christopher Williams, 48, Manhattan.
Diana Moorman, 58, Manhattan.
Michael Murphy, 51, Ogden.
Melissa Henderson, 36
Quinton Watts, 30
Allison Krosschell, 24, Manhattan.
Timothy Lanshaw, 26, Manhattan.
Indictment No. 5
(One defendant, firearms)
Frederick Swinson, 31
Indictment No. 6
(One defendant, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, drug involved premise)
John Thompson, 59, Manhattan.
Indictment No. 7 (Four defendants, methamphetamine, marijuana, hydrocodone, firearms, felonious use of a communication device)
Paige Jonas, 26, Manhattan.
Trevonn Hall, 20, Ogden.
Alyssa Hedman, 28, Manhattan.
Eric Jerome Tucker, 33
Indictment No. 8
(One defendant, firearms, methamphetamine)
Daniel Mainville, 35, Manhattan.
Indictment No. 9
(One defendant, fentanyl, removal of property to prevent seizure)
Chanel Toliver, 32, Manhattan.
Indictment No. 10
(One defendant, methamphetamine)
Damon Brown, 44, Westmoreland.
Indictment No. 11 (One defendant, heroin, felonious use of a communication device)
Jason Simonds, 46, Manhattan.
Indictment No. 12 (One defendant, felonious use of a communication device)
Jerah Gasser, 26
Indictment No. 13 (One defendant, firearms)
James Atkinson, 50, Manhattan.
Upon conviction, the crimes in the 13 indictments carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy to distribute heroin resulting in bodily injury or death (Clark, S. Calvert, M. Calvert, J. Toliver, B. Woodyard): Not less than 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $5 million.
Conspiracy to distribute heroin resulting in bodily injury or death (K. Obrecht): Not less than five years and not more than 40 years, and a fine up to $5 million.
Distributing heroin resulting in bodily injury or death (B. Woodyard): Not less than 20 years and a fine up to $5 million.
Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.
Conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl: Not less than five years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $5 million.
Unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine: Not less than 10 years and a fine up to $10 million.
Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon: Up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Maintaining a drug involved premise: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $500,000.
Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine: Not less than five years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $5 million.
Conspiracy to make a false statement to obtain a firearm: Up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Using Facebook Messenger in furtherance of drug trafficking: Up to four years and a fine up to $250,000.
Removal of property to prevent seizure: Up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.
The case was jointly led by the Riley County Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration, with the assistance of the Riley County Attorney’s Office, the Junction City Police Department, the Geary County Sheriff’s Department, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Department, the Junction City Police Department.