A federal court judge has determined the penalty for some participants charged in connection with “Operation Say Uncle.”
- 31 year old Michael “Texas” Cole of Rapid City was convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance. He was sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Court information says Cole was stopped for driving a vehicle with a suspended license. During the stop, a drug-detection dog alerted to the presence of illegal narcotics in the vehicle and drug paraphernalia was located. Upon the arrest of the defendant, fentanyl was discovered in his shoes, which he intended to distribute to others.
- 44 year old Melvin Corbine must spend four years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Court papers say while involved in the conspiracy, Corbine distributed methamphetamine in the Rapid City area to others for use and distribution.
- 36 year old Eric Yockey was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. During his involvement in the conspiracy, the defendant traveled to California with a co-conspirator and received heroin in payment for assisting in the trip. He also obtained more heroin on other occasions, which was then distributed to people in South Dakota.
- 40 year old Anthony Larson was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Larson was part of a conspiracy responsible for distributing between 1.5 and 5 kilograms of methamphetamine in western South Dakota.
Others charged in the conspiracy have trial and sentencing dates pending.
This case was investigated by the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET), Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. UNET is comprised of law enforcement from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, South Dakota National Guard, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
FEBRUARY 25, 2021:
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that 37 people have been federally indicted as part of OCDETF Operation Say Uncle. OCDETF stands for Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, which is a “keystone of the Attorney General’s strategy to reduce the availability of illicit narcotics throughout the United States using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.” OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, and transnational criminal organizations.
Federal prosecutors in Rapid City, South Dakota, working cooperatively with law enforcement agencies across the State, federally charged 37 defendants with drug-related offenses, despite the challenges imposed on the criminal justice system and law enforcement officers everywhere by COVID-19. The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office charged nine persons with state offenses as part of the same Operation. The charges allege the defendants conspired with each other to bring multiple pounds of methamphetamine into Western South Dakota beginning in 2019 and continuing into 2020.
“These indictments are the result of tremendous cooperation and teamwork between all levels of law enforcement in South Dakota,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “I’m incredibly proud of these dedicated state, local, tribal, and federal officers and agents, and all hands are on deck as we continue to work together to defeat the scourge of illegal drugs that is devastating communities across the State.”
“Our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s office has been incredibly successful in this matter,” said David Natvig, Director of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. “Their cooperation and assistance have
helped all the law enforcement agencies involved to see the fruits of the hard work they put into building this case.”
Those federally charged include:
- Erick Anaya (30, Archdale, NC);
- Kelly Barker (67, Rapid City, SD );
- Ricardo Barragan (30, Aurora, CO);
- Christopher Bell (27, Rapid City, SD);
- Nathan Bellew (39, Hot Springs, SD);
- Kelley Blevins (42, Box Elder, SD);
- Robert Brenden (33, Rapid City, SD);
- Jennifer Cagle (32, Box Elder, SD);
- Robert Cagle (31, Box Elder, SD);
- Uzziel Carillo-Rojas (33, Mazatlan, Mexico);
- Charles Clark (42, Box Elder, SD);
- Jennifer Clark (41, Box Elder, SD);
- Mason Colbath (29, Rapid City, SD);
- Michael Cole (30, Rapid City, SD);
- Melvin Corbine (43, Rapid City, SD);
- Justin Coyle (34, Rapid City, SD);
- Lenin Flores-Herrera (27, Mazatlan, Mexico);
- Matthew Foster (43, Huron, SD);
- Luis Gonzalez Meza (42, Tijuana, Mexico);
- Patrick Greenfield (30, Rapid City, SD);
- Erin Hunter (35, Rapid City, SD);
- Rayne Jackson (27, Denver, CO);
- Stephen Jordan (30, Rapid City, SD);
- Scott Kallstrom (40, Rapid City, SD);
- Christina Kruse (23, Sioux Falls, SD);
- Anthony Larson (40, Rapid City, SD);
- Delaine Martinez (43, Billings, MT);
- Michael McLeod (41, Rapid City, SD);
- Teri Moore (36, Hot Springs, SD);
- Javier Reyna (56, Oceanside, CA);
- Tiana Rountree (24, Rapid City, SD);
- Aynjel Schumacher (26, Rapid City, SD);
- Martin Shaw (45, Rapid City, SD);
- Michael Sherard (34, Brooklyn Park, MN);
- John Thornberry (23, Spearfish, SD);
- Darwin Toof (30, Box Elder, SD );
- Eric Yockey (35, Black Hawk, SD).
All but three of the defendants have been arrested. All arrested defendants are pending trial, with the exceptions of Barker, Bell, Hunter and Schumacher, each of whom has pleaded guilty. Bell was sentenced on November 16, 2020, to more than 12 years in federal prison. Barker, Hunter, and Schumacher are pending sentencing.
These charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office has charged Travis Maho, Alex Nimmor, Duane Apple, Keith Laframboise, Orlyn Anderson, Tabitha Range, Chris Luke, Zack Franzen, and Christopher Tomac in connection with this investigation. Those charges, as well, are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty
Finally, Kansas authorities prosecuted co-conspirator Jennie Wallace, who was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison.
The case is being prosecuted federally by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn N. Rich. The state charged defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Trevor Thielen.
Agencies involved in this effort include the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Rapid City Police Department, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Deadwood Police Department, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Spearfish Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety. Agencies outside of South Dakota who assisted were from the Reno County (KS) Drug Enforcement Unit, Billings (MT) Drug Task Force, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Saint Joe (MO) Drug Task Force, Utah Highway Patrol, Utah State Bureau of Investigation, Greensboro (NC) Drug Task Force, and the Yuba City (CA) NET5 Drug Task Force.