Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced today the unsealing of an indictment returned on May 11 by a grand jury sitting in Madison, which charges Marcos Castaneda, 37, of Pomona, Calif., with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.
The indictment alleges that the conspiracy involved more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Local law enforcement authorities, along with the FBI, arrested Castaneda in California on May 19, 2017. Castaneda made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison on June 21. He is being detained in jail pending trial, which is currently set for Dec. 11, 2017.
With this indictment, 20 people have now been charged as participants in this conspiracy which involved the trafficking of pure methamphetamine (also known as “Ice” or “crystal meth”). The methamphetamine came from the Pomona, Calif., area. It was then transported by drivers using rental cars to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. From there, the methamphetamine was distributed by an organized network of drug wholesalers and retailers in central Wisconsin. The methamphetamine was sold in Wisconsin communities, both large and small, including Wausau, Merrill, Medford, Abbotsford, Owen, Athens, Eau Claire, and Osseo. The marketing plan of the organization was to flood these communities with inexpensive, pure, and plentiful methamphetamine, in an effort to create more addicts, and therefore more customers.
The conspiracy operated from June 2013 to May 2016. During this time, methamphetamine was brought into Wisconsin from Minnesota on a weekly basis, averaging one pound per week. Demand exploded in late 2015 and early 2016, and the trafficking increased to two to three pounds per week. In all, over 58 kilograms (or 127 pounds) of methamphetamine were distributed by the members of this conspiracy. The methamphetamine had a street value of over $5.7 million dollars.
To date, 19 people – including eight from Merrill – have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Madison to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. All have been sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson. The sentences imposed against these 19 defendants total over 200 years in federal prison. Most recently, Christina Abbott and Daniel Graap, both of Merrill, were sentenced on June 30, 2017, by Judge Peterson. Abbott received a sentence of 66 months in prison. Graap received a sentence of 120 months in prison.
In imposing Abbott’s sentence, Judge Peterson told Abbott that while she held a smaller role in the conspiracy, her conduct was fueled by her own drug addiction, which she has been unable to control, and has now resulted in her fourth felony drug conviction. This made her a dangerous person because she took advantage of other people’s addiction to methamphetamine to sell drugs, make money, and fuel her own drug habit. The judge urged Abbott to take responsibility for her recovery, and realize that her conduct has consequences.
In imposing sentence on Graap, the judge told Graap he played a significant role in the conspiracy, noting: “you engaged in extremely dangerous and damaging activity that harmed your community… You did more than sell drugs. You facilitated others in this crime. You bought from your own son, and you took other people down with you.”
The charges against these defendants are the result of an investigation conducted by the Wausau office of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office; the Wausau office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, Special Investigations Unit; the Wausau Police Department; and IRS Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.
A charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.