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News Release[print-friendly page]
January 19, 2006
Contact: DEA Public Affairs

30 People Indicted for Involvement in
St. Louis Drug Trafficking Network

St. Louis, Missouri:  Preston L. Grubbs, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Division Office, United States Attorney Catherine Hanaway, Eastern District of Missouri, Chief Joseph Mokwa, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jerry Lee announced six indictments charging 30 defendants for their involvement in drug-trafficking networks operating in the St. Louis suburb of Wellston, Missouri.

“From the street corners of Wellston, Missouri to the source of supply in Mexico, St. Louis law enforcement working together has dismantled a violent drug trafficking organization that has plagued the St. Louis area for years,” said Mr. Grubbs.

“We sincerely believe that the investigation which led to these indictments can have a very real impact on the quality of life in Wellston, especially if the word of these indictments reaches people who have held the misguided thought that Wellston is a “safe haven” for drug dealers,” said Hanaway.

“The elimination of this large drug trafficking ring will not only curb drug activity in St. Louis but in the entire region as well,” stated Chief Mokwa. “The Metropolitan Police Department is proud to have played a major role in the diffusion of this dangerous operation. ”

“This investigation has demonstrated that law enforcement agencies in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, both Federal and local, are successful and effective partners,” said Chief Lee.  “The St. Louis County Multi-jurisdictional Task Force, DEA, FBI and the US Attorney’s Office have once again come together to take serious criminals off the street.”

The leader of the largest of the two targeted networks, and the source of supply, LaFranz Wilson, was indicted along with sixteen other defendants in one indictment for conspiracy to distribute approximately 50 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $1 million. Most of the other conspirators were distributors for the organization; Chadwich Ellis, Ronald Combs, Eric Combs and Sherman Combs were significant distributors.  The members of the Combs family operated drug distribution houses at 6411 and 6415 Myrtle in Wellston, Missouri.

Byron Jackson headed the other distribution network. Jackson was indicted along with eight other defendants. Edward O’Rourke, Jerry Fitch, Eric Woehrle and Gerald French were significant distributors for this group.

Terrell Reid, one of the conspirators, was previously indicted for distribution of cocaine base ("crack" cocaine).  In the course of a detention hearing in that case, evidence was adduced that Reid was seeking to kill a person with whom he had a dispute. He is currently being held without bond.

Additionally, a civilian employee of the Berkeley Police Department, Tykeis Woods, was indicted for passing information concerning the investigation to members of the drug-trafficking organization.

Four other co-conspirators were indicted separately for related distribution activities.

If convicted, these defendants face penalty ranges of up to life in prison and/or fines up to $4,000,000.

This investigation has been developing over the last two years.  In the last year, a concentrated effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Narcotics Section developed a plan of attack.  In addition to the St. Louis City Narcotics Section, DEA Task Force Group 31, which consists of DEA agents and officers from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the Bridgeton Police Department executed this plan. With the support of the Special Operation Division, a multi-agency group led by DEA which coordinates multi-state investigations, this team developed the evidence which disclosed the full nature of these drug distribution networks. 

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Defendants Indicted:

In the first indictment, the following seventeen individuals were indicted:

  1. Terrell REID, 26, 6300 block of Wellsmar, Wellston;

  2. LaFranz WILSON, 31, 900 block of Sunset Farms Drive, St. Charles, and also 11000 block of. Philmar, St. Louis County, 8500 block of Riverview, St. Louis and 6300 block of Wellsmar, Wellston;

  3. Ronald COMBS, 24, 6400 block of Myrtle, Wellston;

  4. Sherman COMBS, 29, 100 block of Olympia Drive, St. Louis, and the 6400 block of Myrtle, Wellston;

  5. Eric COMBS, 26, 6400 block of Myrtle, Wellston;

  6. Michael SHORES, 25, 6200 block of Lenox, Wellston, and also Marvin Gardens, St. Louis County;

  7. Gerald PILGRIM, 32, 8500 block of Riverview, St. Louis;

  8. Chadwich ELLIS, 33, 11000 block of Prendergast, St. Louis County;

  9. Ronnie SHEPHARD, 39, 6100 block of Wagner, Wellston;

  10. Jermaine LOVE, 30, 1700 block of Grove Street, and 1500 block of Wellston Avenue, Wellston;

  11. James SNIPES, JR., 34,  8100 block of Ellerton, St. Louis;

  12. Tykeis WOODS, 30, 6200 block of Julian, St. Louis;

  13. Demetree CROSSLAND, 39, 7900 block of Elinore Street, Richmond Heights;

  14. Keith HIBLER, 39, 5800 block of Wabadda, St. Louis;

  15. Antonio MORRIS, 28, 2900 block of Cranfield Court, St. Louis County and also 9000 block of Torchrow Walk, St. Louis County;

  16. Tobias POINTER, 28, 100 block of Monteith Circle, St. Louis and also 1900 block of Belt, St. Louis;  and

  17. Jeremy HORTON, 33, 1200 block of Stephen Jones Street, Wellston. 

The second indictment includes the following nine individuals:

  1. Byron JACKSON, 36, 800 block of Manres, Florissant and also 6400 block of Wells, Wellston;

  2. Edward O'ROURKE, 43, 9500 block of Miriam, St. Louis County;

  3. Jerry FITCH, 32, 4300 block of Rozier Drive, St. Louis County and also 500 block of North Price, St. Louis;

  4. Eric WOEHRLE, 33, Highway AK, Robertsville, Missouri;

  5. Gerald FRENCH, 39, 4600 block of Anderson Avenue, St. Louis;

  6. Terrence GIVANS, 37, 7400 block of Pleaseway Street, St. Louis County;

  7. Randy DAVIS, 47, 1400 block of Walton Street, St. Louis;

  8. David McKAY, 54, 6100 block of  Gambleton Street, St. Louis County; and

  9. Tony BISHOP, 35, 2900 block of Maywood, St. Louis County.

Each of the following four individuals were indicted separately:

  1. Byron LaMont RHINE, 36, 6400 block of Derby Street, St. Louis County;

  2. Renee HAMPTON, 48, 6200 block of Wagner, Wellston;

  3. Richard Johnson ROSS, 24, 7300 San Diego, St. Louis; and

  4. Everette HILL, SR., 55, 5900 block of Goodfellow, St. Louis.

Requests for additional information should be directed to Group Supervisor Alan Wilson or Public Information Officer Special Agent Shirley Armstead at 314/538-4600.



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