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03-31-05 Drug bust in Mercer County

By Margie Wuebker
mwuebker@dailystandard.com

  Twenty-four people face nearly 60 felony drug charges in the wake of a lengthy investigation by the Mercer County Sheriff's Office and the Grand Lake Task Force.
Celina resident Darin Miller gets into a Mercer County Sheriff's Office cruiser under the watchful eye of Deputy Brian Kellermeyer. Miller is one of 24 people facing nearly 60 felony drug charges. Three suspects remain at large but Sheriff Jeff Grey hopes they will be in custody by the time he conducts a 2:15 p.m. press conference today. A Mercer County grand jury handed down the indictments last week.<br>dailystandard.com
  Unlike drug busts carried out in the past, this mission was carried out over the course of three days following morning briefings Tuesday, Wednesday and today.
  "Given budget constraints and tight quarters at the jail, we decided to try a novel approach," Sheriff Jeff Grey told The Daily Standard. "Our target continues to be traffickers -- the people responsible for the sale of drugs -- and not users."
  The roundup of suspects indicted last week by a Mercer County grand jury continued at press time today. Those arrested thus far include:
   Bruce J. Beare, 26, 1890 Schroeder Road, Celina, three counts trafficking in marijuana and cocaine and two counts trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a juvenile/school.   Deputies also seized his 1996 GMC Jimmy SUV, which allegedly was used in the commission of the offenses.
  Also taken into custody at the Beare home on outstanding bench warrants from Celina and St. Marys police departments was Caramelita K. Huelskamp, 28, 1400 W. Market St., Celina.
   James R. Baker, 23, 3601 state Route 703, Lot 59, Celina, one count trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a juvenile/school.
   Lisa M. Freeman, 24, 1400 W. Market St., Apt. 51, Celina, one count trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a juvenile.
   Casey W. Hammond, 21, 537 Touvelle Street, Lot 24 A, Celina, three counts trafficking in marijuana, including one offense that allegedly took place near a juvenile/school; one count trafficking in a counterfeit controlled substance within the vicinity of juvenile/school; felony, and one count trafficking in crack cocaine within the vicinity of a juvenile/school.
   Michael L. King, 22, 320 Morton St., Celina, three counts trafficking in drugs, including one offense allegedly occurring in the presence of a juvenile or near a school.
   Cheryl Kugler, 48, 327 E. Fulton St., Apt. B, Celina, one count trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a juvenile/school and one count of administering, dispensing, manufacturing, possessing or selling the drug Floricet.
   Darin W. Miller, 29, 327 E. Fulton St., Apt. B, Celina, three counts trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a juvenile/school.
   Michael Posada, 24, 812 Pro Drive, Apt. 18, Celina, two counts trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a school.
   Ivan Flores Rodriguez, also known as Gilberto Chavez, 22, 6173 Gause Road, Celina, five counts of trafficking in cocaine, including one offense allegedly committed in the vicinity of a juvenile. He is currently incarcerated at the Madison Correctional Institution in connection with another case.
   James G. Storer III, also known as Trey Storer, 20, 625 W. Wayne St., Celina, two counts trafficking in marijuana.
   Aaron L. Thobe, 20, 02196 Lock Two Road, New Bremen, trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of a school. His offense involves an incident that took place in Mercer County.
   Joseph P. Thompson III, 19, 616 Mackinaw St., Celina, two counts trafficking in marijuana within the vicinity of juvenile/school.
   Veronica L. Valdez, 21, 1400 W. Market St., Apt. 6, Celina, three counts of trafficking in marijuana and crack cocaine within the vicinity of a juvenile/school.
   Jeremiah S. Williams, 22, 615 Mackinaw Street, Celina, six counts of trafficking in marijuana, including one offense that allegedly occurred within the vicinity of a juvenile/school.
  The offenses relating to alleged drug activity in the presence of a juvenile or in the vicinity of a school are fourth-degree felonies punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The other trafficking charges are fifth-degree felonies carrying maximum sentences of up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
  Searches of the suspects and their homes yielded marijuana and/or drug paraphernalia resulting in the filing of additional misdemeanor charges against Baker, Storer, Miller, Posada and Thompson. Nick, the Celina Police Department's K-9 unit, assisted with searching each location.
  One suspect reportedly packed his belongings and left in a hurry after learning of the first round of arrests. Authorities also suspect some drugs were flushed down toilets as news of the drug raids spread.
  The drug bust, the first conducted locally since July 2004, stems from an investigation dating back to the fall of 2003. Authorities learned of some activity during performance of their regular duties, while other information was gathered from undercover informants and the public.

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