News Release
June 26, 2008
Contact: Joanna Zoltay
Number: 312-886-2597

34 Arrested in Northwest Indiana Alleged Methamphetamine
Distribution Ring
Three meth labs seized in "Operation Nomad"

Items seized from meth lab

JUN 26 -- (Porter County, IN) – A 65 count federal indictment has led to the arrest of 34 individuals charged with allegedly conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine from January, 2004 through June, 2008. The indictment also charges conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms of marijuana from November, 2006 to June, 2008.

During the execution of five search warrants in Porter and Jasper Counties, three small toxic methamphetamine labs were discovered and dismantled. In addition to the meth labs, over 45 firearms and over 5,000 rounds of ammunition, and Invader Motorcycle Club paraphernalia were also seized. Most of the defendants were arrested over the past several days in the Northern District of Indiana, Missouri and Colorado, and have already made their initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge in Hammond.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug with potent central nervous system stimulant properties, and is second only to alcohol and marijuana as the drug used most frequently in many Western and Midwestern states. The specific dangers faced by people who live at or visit drug-production sites or are present during drug production include inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of toxic chemicals, drugs, or contaminated foods or drink that may result in respiratory difficulties, nausea, chest pain, eye and tissue irritation, chemical burns, and death. Fi res and explosions often result from the dangerous methamphetamine production processes.

“The discovery and takedown of these meth labs is serious business,” stated Gary G. Olenkiewicz, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Field Division which covers Indiana. “The dangerous and toxic chemicals used to produce meth put the environment and our communities at risk. The cooperative law enforcement efforts during this investigation has made Northern Indiana a safer place.”

The 65 count indictment also alleges one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine, multiple counts of distribution of, and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, marijuana and numerous related narcotics counts.

Charged in the indictment are:
Richard Kasper aka “Tricky”, 30, of Kouts
Timothy Bartruff aka “Beefy”, 50, of Kouts
Stacey L. Judd aka “Weirdo”, 48, of Hebron
Kathleen Conley aka “Kat”, 50, of Kouts
Bonnie S. Bol, 43, of Kouts
Koni E. Burgess, 49, of Wheatfield
Kelly J. Elston, 39, of Rensselaer
Kenneth W. Harris, 43, of Kouts
Thomas J. Kerbs, 50, of Crown Point
Christopher P. Krug, 31, of Wheatfield, still at large
Tawnee L. McCluskey, 21, of Kouts
Richard W. Mote aka “Scooter Boy”, 34, of Valparaiso
Stacy C. Simpson, 34 of Hebron
Darryl D. Taylor aka “Noodle”, 55, of Denver, Colorado
Jeri L. Wright, 46, of Kouts
Steven R. Campbell, 49, of Chicago
Jeremy Joseph, 31, of Goodland
Amanda Cooper, 27, of Hebron

Also charged in a separate indictment are:
Douglas J. Early, 32, of Cedar Lake
Jason A. Kerkhoff, 32, of Wolcott
Bridgit Ann Kidd, 33, of Wolcott
Brandy Suzanne Pulver, 33, of Knox, still at large
Beth R. Hicks, 26, of Wheatfield, still at large
Debra A. Howard, 48, of Kouts
James E. Patrick, 48, of Kouts
Jay T. Sampson, 38, of Rensselaer
Kevin L. Fitzpatrick, 32, of Wheatfield
Andrew W. Pulver, 39, of Knox
Brandon Saldivar, 25, of Hammond
Jason Sons, 30, of Rensselaer
Jacob Casey, 24, of Cedar Lake
Brandi May, 35, of Kouts
Jenette Holder, 24, of Hebron
Matthew Holder, 25, of Hebron

The indictments and arrests stem from an extensive cooperative investigation directed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Merrillville Office, the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond, the Porter County Sheriff’s Office, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, the Valparaiso Police Department, the Kouts Police Department and the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutors for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond handling the case are AUSA David Nozick, AUSA Jennifer Chang, and AUSA Joshua Kolar.

The public is reminded that an indictment is an allegation only and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by a guilty plea.