Three Merrill residents indicted on federal drug charges in meth conspiracy
Each faces mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison
By Tina L. Scott
MADISON – Three Merrill residents were among a group of six arrested in an alleged methamphetamine conspiracy responsible for transporting large amounts of the drug from Arizona to Wisconsin, according to a June 7 press release from the Office of Acting U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea for the Western District of Wisconsin, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
A federal grand jury in Madison returned an indictment on May 12 and that indictment was unsealed following the arrests.
Those charged were Matthew White, age 36, Amy Pehlke, 33, and TJ Myers, 32, all of Merrill; Levi Bagne, age 30, of Buckeye, Ariz.; Krista Sparks, 26, of Phoenix, Ariz.; and Corey Freyermuth, 38, of Oshkosh.
“Each of the defendants is charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and to possess 50 grams or more of methamphetamine for distribution,” the release stated. “The indictment alleges that the conspiracy operated from June 2019 through May 2021. In addition, Myers is charged with possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine for distribution on June 8, 2020. Pehlke and White also are charged with distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The indictment alleges that Pehlke distributed the drug on July 23, 2020, and White did so on July 28, 2020. Bagne and Freyermuth are charged with possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine for distribution on September 2, 2020.”
The federal investigation started in June 2019, when it is alleged that “Bagne and Sparks used the United States Postal Service to mail methamphetamine from Phoenix, Ariz., to Freyermuth in Oshkosh.”
An additional parcel that was sent by Bagne and Sparks to Freyermuth in Nov. 2019 and intercepted contained two pounds of methamphetamine, and another sent in Feb. 2020 and intercepted contained approximately six pounds of the drug
“On Sept. 2, 2020, agents executed a search warrant on a storage facility in Stevens Point, Wis., used by Bagne and Freyermuth and found 10 pounds of methamphetamine,” the release stated. “In total, agents have seized approximately 20 pounds of methamphetamine and 14 firearms during the course of the investigation.”
“The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of property constituting or derived from proceeds of the conspiracy, including real property located in Buckeye, Ariz.; $5,866 in U.S. currency seized on July 23, 2020, in Merrill; $1,180 in U.S. currency seized on April 8, 2021, in Merrill; and $31,220 in U.S. currency seized on April 8, 2021 in Schofield, Wis.,” the release continued.
“A combined local, state, and federal investigation led to the indictment charging these six individuals with operating an interstate drug trafficking scheme,” O’Shea said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who bring methamphetamine into Wisconsin and distribute it in our communities.”
“By working up the supply chain, the investigators in this case were able to identify individuals allegedly responsible for trafficking large amounts of meth into Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you to Lake Winnebago Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group and the many agencies that worked together to make Wisconsin safer by taking down this alleged drug trafficking organization.”
According to the release, four arrests occurred on May 26: Bagne and Sparks in Arizona, Freyermuth in Oshkosh, and Pehlke in Merrill. Myers and White are in state custody on state charges.
“Bagne and Sparks have made an initial appearance in Arizona; no date has been set for their appearance in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin,” the release said. “Pehlke and Freyermuth had detention hearings in federal court in Madison on June 1 and June 2, respectively.”
Pehlke was released on June 7 with court-imposed conditions, and Freyermuth remains detained.
The charges and arrests are the result of a combined investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Lake Winnebago Area MEG Unit, Central Wisconsin Narcotics Task Force, Glendale (Ariz.) Police Department – Special Investigations Unit, Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area West Valley Task Force, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
If convicted, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on each charge.
All those charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.