An Overland Park couple in their 60s are among 18 people indicted as part of a heroin trafficking ring allegedly linked to Mexican drug cartels.
The group, including two Mexican citizens allegedly in the country illegally, was responsible for distributing at least 30 pounds of heroin and a large amount of methamphetamine in the Kansas City area, authorities said in court documents.
The 18 defendants are named in a federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, charging them with conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The ring has been operating since 2011, according to the indictment. And as recently as Dec. 7, authorities in Phoenix seized a 7-pound shipment of heroin that was allegedly being delivered to one of the conspirators in Kansas City.
Federal prosecutors are seeking to seize $850,000 that they said were proceeds from the drug distribution. The yearlong investigation by Kansas City police and the FBI utilized court-ordered wiretaps and extensive physical surveillance of numerous drug deals, according to court documents outlining the case.
Several pounds of drugs and numerous firearms were seized during the investigation.
The case began in October 2015 when an informant tipped off authorities that Dennis McLallen, 64, and Pamela Gaddy-McLallen, 62, were allegedly obtaining heroin from Mexican sources, according to the documents.
A significant amount of the drug proceeds being sought by the government are linked to the couple, including nearly $200,000 in their bank accounts, according to the indictment.
The documents filed in federal court do not provide details about the alleged cartel connections in Mexico.
The informant reportedly made several heroin purchases from McLallen and Gaddy-McLallen. Those transactions took place in parking lots outside a Kansas City, North, hotel, and outside a McDonald’s and Walgreens pharmacy in Overland Park.
Those deals took place in May, June and July and involved about 164 grams of heroin, according to the documents.
The documents also describe intercepted phone calls between McLallen, Gaddy-McLallen and their suppliers.
Detectives then followed the two from their home in the 8800 block of Antioch Road and saw them meeting with another man in various business parking lots in Overland Park and houses in Kansas City.
Those transactions occurred in August and September, according to the documents.
The man who was allegedly meeting with Gaddy-McLallen and McLallen to make the deals was identified in court documents as Julian Felix-Aguirre.
On Sept. 14, Kansas City police pulled Felix-Aguirre over and arrested him for not having a valid license. They also determined that he was in the country illegally.
Inside his vehicle they found a pound of heroin, according to the documents.
Detectives also served search warrants at two houses in Kansas City associated with Felix-Aguirre.
Two pounds of heroin and 4 pounds of methamphetamine were recovered during those searches. Investigators also seized three pistols, two assault rifles, a shotgun and more than $50,000 in cash.
They also searched the Kansas City, Kan., residence of another man, Rafael Meza. That search in Kansas City, Kan., yielded 5 pounds of marijuana, a handgun, two bullet-resistant vests and $10,000 in cash.
Felix-Aguirre and Meza, both 43, were charged in September in federal court with conspiracy to distribute drugs.
Another man, Martin Puerta-Navarro, was charged earlier this month after he allegedly paid an informant working with investigators to bring more than 7 pounds of heroin from Phoenix to Kansas City, according to court documents. Puerta-Navarro was also indicted for allegedly re-entering the United States illegally after he was deported in March.
McLallen, Gaddy-McLallen, Felix-Aguirre, Meza and Puerta-Navarro are among the 18 defendants named in Friday’s indictment.
The others indicted are: Nestor Felix-Navarette, 28; Christian Felix, age unknown; Jaime Higuera-Rojas, 23; Phillip Wheat, 64; Marcus Wheat, 34; Blake Haas, 27; Whitney Mellies, 26; Robin Dahmer, 43; James Pires, 40; Michael Smith, 27; Christine Little Wood, 59; Kevin Fletcher, 28; and Sterling Cline, 36.
Their cities of residence were not available.