HOWARD – A drug trafficking ring in Howard? That’s just what the Brown County Sheriff’s Office says was operating in the area for at least the past year.
[caption id="attachment_20250" align="alignleft" width="300"] Top Row: Verge Medina and Chelsea Cornette. Bottom Row: Allan Murphy and Marshawn Mackontee. (Brown Co. Jail)[/caption]
Verge Medina, Chelsea Cornette, Allan Murphy and Marshawn Mackontee, were charged in Brown County court Tuesday.
Medina, a convicted felon and the alleged ringleader, is facing multiple drug and weapons charges. The other three are facing drug charges.
They stem from a 10 week investigation into the distribution of at least 1,000 pounds of marijuana over the past year. Police estimate its street value between $5-6 million.
“When we look at the scope and scale of what we can show – historically – It's pretty significant,” said Lt. Dave Poteat, with the Brown County Drug Task Force.
[caption id="attachment_20187" align="alignright" width="300"] The Brown County Drug Task Force displays bags of marijuana seized in a bust, April 1, 2014. (WLUK/Bill Miston)[/caption]
Poteat says the drugs were sent by mail and parcel shipment companies from San Francisco. He says 12-pound packages of marijuana were mailed to various addresses in Brown and Outagamie counties, twice a week.
The U.S. Postal Service tipped off investigators about some suspicious packages in December.
Court documents say Medina would pick up the packages and bring them back to his Howard home that he shared with his girlfriend Cornette. Drug dealers would then swing by to pick up their shares of the product.
"We do believe there are other people involved and there are probably cells, if you will, operating in the same manner, even in this area - maybe other areas,” said Poteat. “But we believe it ties back to San Francisco, where the packages were originating."
[caption id="attachment_20236" align="alignright" width="300"] Guns taken during a drug bust in Howard, March 25, 2014. (Brown Co. Drug Task Force)[/caption]
Poteat says Medina would travel to San Francisco every other week with $60,000-80,000 in cash to pay for the product.
Police say the drugs were put in plastic bags and submerged in rubbing alcohol to try and mask the smell of the marijuana.
Poteat says investigators seized more than ten pounds of marijuana, 19 handguns and assault-style rifles guns, roughly 7,000 rounds of ammunition, and more than $130,000 in cash and other assets.
Authorities also seized more than $44,000 from bank and security deposit box accounts of Medina.