Two more Merrill men indicted in Methamphetamine conspiracy.
“I can say with a a high level of certainty additional indictments are forthcoming not only in Central Wisconsin but outlying areas as well. If I was dealing, or in any way involved with the sale or possession of Methamphetamine in central Wisconsin I would be thinking about this.”–United States Attorney John W. Vaudreuil
Thursday morning, US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin John W. Vaudreuil announced the unsealing of an indictment returned Wednesday by a grand jury sitting in Madison.
The indictment charged 26-year old David Brandenburg and 26-year old Matthew Drake-both of Merrill- with conspiring to Distribute Methamphetamine and Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. The indictment alleges this conspiracy involved more than 500 grams of Methamphetamine.
Along with the indictment, 12 other individuals have now been indicted on federal charges related to the distribution of Methamphetamine in the central Wisconsin area from June 2013 through May 2016.
These individuals have been identified as:
Joseph Kujawa, 37 of Oakdale, MN
Kyle Quintana, 23 of St. Paul,MN
Jacob Loose, 24 of Wausau
Jaimie Pankow, 32 of Wausau
Anthony Rogers, 24 of Wausau
Andrew Nelson, 31 of Merrill
Karen Zais, 48 of Merrill
Christopher Schmeltzer, 45 of Merrill
Paul Rasmussen, 34 of Osseo,Wis
The list of indictments has been continuing to grow since March when Zais, Pankow and Nelson were indicted, followed by Kujawa, Quintana and Loose in May then Schmeltzer and Rasmussen last month.
Brandenburg was arrested early Thursday morning in Merrill and was transported to Madison for his initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker. Brandenburg remains in federal custody. Drake will make his initial appearance in US District Court in August.
As part of an interview with the Merrill Foto News Friday afternoon, Vaudreuil indicated the investigation leading to the string of indictments began in the summer of 2014.
“We executed a search warrant on the home of Mrs. Zais and Mr. Nelson on June 4, 2014 during which we seized 13 ounzes of Methamphetamine. Our investigation had begun shortly before that, but following that search and seizure we came to the conclusion we were dealing with a very large organization. This was not a small operation by any means. Upon moving forward with the investigation we determined Zais and Nelson had been obtaining their Methamphetamine from Mr. Quintana which led us to the twin cities and his eventual indictment. Through surveillance, interviews and arrests, we have in-turn gained more information which has led to additional indictments.”
When asked of the possibility of future indictments as a result of the ongoing investigation, Vaudreuil was adamant.
“I can say with a a high level of certainty additional indictments are forthcoming not only in Central Wisconsin but outlying areas as well. If I was dealing, or in any way involved with the sale or possession of Methamphetamine in central Wisconsin I would be thinking about this.”
Due to the amounts charged in the indictments returned against the above listed defendants, most are now facing 10-year mandatory prison terms if convicted.
Both Brandenburg and Drake, if convicted, are facing a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison. The charges against these defendants are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigation; Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; US Drug Enforcement Administration; Marathon County Sheriff’s Office-Special Investigations Unit; Wausau Police Department Merrill Police Department and IRS-Department of Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of this case will be handled by US Attorney Daniel Gabler.
Please be advised a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is assumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.