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St. Charles, Republic Women Sentenced for Meth Conspiracy

MAY 18 (OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) ––On May 18, 2017, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Troy Derby of the Kansas City District Office announced that two women, one from St. Charles, Missouri, and the other from Republic, Missouri, were sentenced in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine.  Cheryl D. Paluczak, 50, of St. Charles, and Heather L. Courtois, 33, of Republic, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, District Court Judge for the United States District Court, Western District of Missouri. Paluczak was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison without parole. Courtois was sentenced to four years in federal prison without parole.

Both Paluczak and Courtois pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy that lasted from June 1, 2013, to Nov. 29, 2014. Beginning in 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted by other agencies, investigated a large-scale methamphetamine distribution network in southwest Missouri involving several sources of supply. The investigation resulted in the indictment of 27 co-defendants.

Paluczak admitted that she obtained approximately one pound of methamphetamine from co-defendant Kenna Harmon, 37, of Republic. Paluczak intended to transport the methamphetamine to the St. Louis, Mo., area for distribution. This methamphetamine, however, was seized by law enforcement officers during a traffic stop on Oct. 15, 2014.

Kenna Harmon has pleaded guilty to being a leader, along with her husband, Daniel Harmon, in the drug-trafficking conspiracy as well as a money-laundering conspiracy and to being a felon in possession of a firearm. In total, the Harmon drug-trafficking organization was responsible for the distribution of over 45 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Courtois admitted that she started getting methamphetamine from Kenna Harmon in August 2014. Courtois received ounce amounts of methamphetamine, for which she paid approximately $1,200 to $1,400 per ounce. In order to distribute the large amount of methamphetamine that she was responsible for selling, Kenna Harmon stored methamphetamine in several residences in Greene and Polk Counties, and directed several individuals to assist in maintaining those residences, including Courtois. Courtois rented a residence in Republic and provided it to Harmon, who stayed at the residence and used it in the storage and distribution of methamphetamine.

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the Republic residence on Nov. 27, 2014, and found 5.5 pounds (2.49 kilograms) of methamphetamine, a loaded firearm and $20,000.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

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