Kansas and Missouri federal and local law enforcement agencies are teaming up in an effort to fight crime, according to an announcement today.
A new Kansas City Metro Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force will target drug traffickers and violent criminals in Kansas and Missouri, according to the announcement.
U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister in Kansas and U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison in the Western District of Missouri made the announcement.
“The Strike Force already is conducting investigations and filing charges against the criminals who are poisoning our community with drugs and violence,” McAllister said. “Crime does not stop at the state line and neither does the Strike Force.”
“This new Strike Force presents a united front against drug trafficking and violent crime throughout the metropolitan area,” Garrison said. “We are marshaling agents and officers from both Missouri and Kansas under the same roof and equipping them with additional investigative resources to better protect our community from the violent scourge of drug trafficking.”
The Strike Force, which launched in April 2019, is targeting drug trafficking organizations that are making the streets of metro Kansas City less safe and more violent by importing large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs from Mexico and elsewhere.
The Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement TaskForces oversees the strike force, and there are now similar strike forces in major cities across the United States.
The OCDETF Strike Force in metro Kansas City includes members from the FBI, DEA, and ATF, as well as the police departments in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, the Jackson County Drug Task Force, the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Kansas and the Western District of Missouri will prosecute the Strike Force’s cases in federal court.
According to officials, the goal of the Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations, including gangs, cartels, and others that are trafficking in drugs and firearms, or engaging in money laundering.
Participating agencies have agreed to assign full-time personnel to the Strike Force. Police officers, federal agents, and prosecutors are working together under one roof. For security reasons, the location will not be made public, according to a spokesman.
An FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge manages the Strike Force’s three teams: a major crime squad, a major threat squad, and a fugitive squad. A Strike Force Executive Council, whose members include both U.S. attorneys, will oversee the Strike Force.
As an example of the work of the Kansas City Metro OCDETF Strike Force, an investigation across state lines resulted in separate indictments being brought in both Kansas and Missouri last month.
- In Kansas City, Kansas, the Strike Force investigated a case (U.S. v. Jose Manuel Delgado-Hernandez, et al.) that resulted in federal drug conspiracy charges against six men who are accused of distributing methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl that came to Kansas through a pipeline that begins in Mexico. The indictment alleges the organization’s distributors at the street level were operating within 1,000 feet of Kensington Park playground and Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas. During the investigation, law enforcement seized 19 pounds of methamphetamine, 66 pounds of marijuana, and firearms, including handguns and a military style rifle.
- In Kansas City, Missouri, the parallel Strike Force investigation resulted in a case (U.S. v. Christie D. Holloway, et al) that included federal drug conspiracy charges against four defendants who are accused of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. One of the defendants is accused of illegally possessing a firearm.
- Other Strike Force cases include:
- U.S. v. Luis Martinez-Carrango, et al.: Agents seized more than 220 pounds of methamphetamine when they served a search warrant at a house in Kansas City, Kansas. Fourteen defendants were charged in a 33-count grand jury indictment. During the investigation, the agents also seized approximately 140 gallons of liquid methamphetamine being transported from Douglas County, Kansas, to Lees Summit, Missouri.
- US v. Lionel Simpson: In November, Simpson was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to selling crack cocaine to undercover agents during meetings in grocery store parking lots and gas stations in Kansas City, Kansas. He was arrested with a backpack containing gloves, a mask, a gun, and a 50-round magazine. He said he kept it in case he ever ran into a rival gang member who was responsible for the death of his sister.
- U.S. v. Jovanny Medina, et al.: Medina was indicted Oct. 23, 2019. The indictment alleges he was arrested during the unloading of 35 pounds of methamphetamine from a car hauler truck in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Kansas City, Kansas.
- U.S. v. Ladele D. Smith, et al.: Twenty defendants were indicted for their roles in a drug-trafficking conspiracy. Approximately 200 federal agents and local law enforcement officers were involved in an Oct. 2, 2019, operation in which most of the defendants were arrested. During the operation, officers seized 23 firearms, heroin and other illegal drugs, and $75,000 in cash. The indictment alleges the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute at least a kilogram of heroin, as well as cocaine, crack cocaine, oxycodone, codeine, and marijuana.
The charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt, according to a spokesman. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
Agency officials who are working with the Strike Force made these statements:
Timothy Langan, FBI Special Agent Charge, Kansas City Division: “The creation of the KC Metro OCDETF Strike Force provides a collaborative effort, serving as a force multiplier to effectively protect the public, by targeting the command structure of major international and interstate drug organizations. We have already seen success with the establishment of this task force locally, through the recent indictment and arrest of multiple subjects in an ongoing drug conspiracy investigation in the Western District of Missouri. That investigation, as well as future investigations, will aim at dismantling, disrupting and prosecuting the hierarchy of these organizations through a concerted effort of federal, state and local law enforcement.”
Erik Smith, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge: “The DEA Kansas City District Office is pleased to collaborate with our federal, state, and local partners in this Strike Force endeavor. The prevalence of drugs and violence is a threat to this community, and a concerted focus on addressing these threats is required from all federal, state, and local law enforcement. We are committed to doing our part.”
Marino Vidoli, ATF Special Agent in Charge: “ATF’s unique expertise in using crime gun intelligence to identify those involved in gun crime and our experience in investigating how firearms are acquired by violent criminals in our communities, allows us to be an integral part of the Strike Force efforts to find, and hold accountable those responsible for violent crime. The Strike Force strengthens ATF’s long standing tradition of partnering with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to reduce violence and make our communities safer.”
Richard Smith, chief of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department: “Drugs and violence have no boundaries in Kansas City or the metropolitan area. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Strike Force to combat violence and provide a safer community for all. Working together provides additional tools and resources to identify violent offenders and remove them from our streets.”
Michael York, chief of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department: “The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department is looking forward to working with our federal partners and local agencies with the hopes of reducing violent crime not just in our city but the entire metropolitan area. The new Metro Strike Force will be a force multiplier for agencies that are dealing with violent crime such as homicides and drive by shootings. We have already experienced success in the short time that Strike Force has been operational.”
Ron Miller, U.S. Marshal of the District of Kansas, and Mark James, U.S. Marshal of the Western District of Missouri: “The U.S. Marshals Service looks forward to combining its fugitive targeting expertise with the overall significant drug and violent crime investigations pursued by the KC Metro OCDETF Strike Force. Together, we are a stronger force against criminal organizations impacting the Greater Kansas City area.”
Paul Shade, U.S. Postal Inspection Service: “Our agency will assist in any matters that involve criminal activity while using the USPS to further their crimes. This includes but is not limited to the trafficking of narcotics and narcotics related U.S. currency being shipped through the mail.”
Karl Stiften, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge: “IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI) is a proud participant of the KC Metro OCDETF Strike Force. CI special agents contribute our financial investigative skills to track and seize proceeds of illegal activities from the criminals involved. Pooling the skills and resources of each agency makes a formidable team.”