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News Release
November 24, 2003

Five Missouri Men and One of Their Texas Based Suppliers are Indicted on Marijuana Conspiracy Charges

William J. Renton,Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Attorney Ray Gruender announced today, the indictment of five Missouri men and one of their Texas based suppliers on charges involving a multi-kilogram marijuana conspiracy.

In addition to the Drug Enforcement Administration, this case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Franklin and Washington County Sheriff's Departments, the Mineral Area Narcotics Task Force and the Lake Area Narcotics Enforcement Group. Assistant United States Attorney Scott Golde is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

MERRIT L. HUDSON, 33, of Potosi, Missouri; AARON WAYNE SCHATZ, 30, of Sullivan, Missouri; MICHAEL RAY SKAGGS, 36, Londell, Missouri; CHRISTOPHER D. OLDHAM, 26, of Sullivan, Missouri; BRADLEY A. STEVENS, 27, of the 4800 block of Colony Church Road, St. Louis County; and NAZARIO ACEVEDO, 28, of Donna, Texas; were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute over 100 kilograms of marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Additionally, the defendants were charged with a drug forfeiture count, which, if convicted, will require them to forfeit U.S. currency that represents proceeds of the illegal activities. The indictments were returned on November 20, 2003 and were unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendants.

If convicted, the maximum penalty is 60 years in prison and/or fines up to $2,000,000. The items subject to forfeiture are: $200,000.

According to the indictment, between January 1999 and early 2000, the above defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of marijuana in St. Louis and Franklin Counties. It was part of the conspiracy that these defendants arranged and transported multi-kilogram quantities of marijuana from Texas to Missouri, and delivered it to Hudson's residences in Franklin County and Osage Beach. The marijuana was then broken up into smaller quantities for retail sale in Franklin and St. Louis Counties. Additionally, the indictment alleges that the defendants transported large sums of drug proceed money from Franklin County and Osage Beach, Missouri to Texas and recruited and paid couriers to assist them in doing so. These couriers would pick up the money at locations in Franklin County and Osage Beach and drive it to Texas where they would pay for multi-kilogram amounts of marijuana. They also allegedly wire transferred operating money to co-conspirators to facilitate the travel of couriers who would transport the currency to Texas and marijuana back to Missouri.

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


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