Drug network implicates men from area
December 14, 2007
ASPEN ” Three local men are named in a federal criminal complaint tying them to a marijuana trafficking network stretching from Arizona to Wisconsin.
In papers filed Nov. 29 in federal court in Wisconsin, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent Matthew McCarthy lists Donald Teeple of Redstone and Aspen residents Thomas Blank and James Wingers as couriers in a trafficking ring run by Peter Israel of Telluride. The documents were made public Friday in the U.S. District Court of Denver, and also reveal that law enforcement agents confiscated some 800 pounds of pot last April in Redstone.
Wingers, a truck driver, is being held in Mesa County, according to his lawyer, John VanNess of Woody Creek. He was arrested and taken into custody Dec. 7 on a U.S. Marshall hold, according to court papers. Blank also was arrested, and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, according to court papers. A court order says that Blank cannot leave Colorado unless it is for legal proceedings related to the matter in Wisconsin. DEA officials have issued a warrant for Teeple.
Court documents accuse the suspects of passing more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana from Fernando Contreras-Magellanas of Tucson, Ariz., through stash houses in Redstone and Silt to distributors in Wisconsin.
The complaint also implicates Contreras-Magellanas’ cousin, Daniel Cocoa-Vega of Arizona.
The suspects are accused of “knowingly and intentionally” conspiring to possess and distribute more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.
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The complaint against the local trio ” Blank, Wingers and Teeple ” comes after Milwaukee investigators made several controlled buys from three other men ” Nicholas Kallas and his father, Charles Kallas; and Joshua Walkowiak ” from July 2006 to March 2007, according to court documents.
In November 2006, South Dakota officials arrested Nicholas Kallas, of parts unknown, near Deadwood, S.D. Kallas allegedly was carrying 123 pounds of marijuana to Wisconsin. Kallas posted bond and returned to Wisconsin.
Milwaukee investigators traced the source of marijuana to the Arizona address of Contreras-Magellanas, via connections to Telluride’s Peter Israel, the complaint says. They did that by placing a GPS tracking unit on Walkowiak’s vehicle and tracked his car to Fort Morgan, and then to Redstone on March 16, the complaint says. The next day, Walkowiak’s vehicle returned to Wisconsin, where he was arrested with allegedly 70 pounds of marijuana. Wisconsin officials later arrested Charles Kallas.
Interrogations revealed that from December 2006 to March, Charles Kallas and Walkowiak allegedly bought more than $250,000 worth of marijuana from Israel.
Meanwhile, Teeple, the Redstone resident, acted as a go-between for Israel on a $91,000 purchase of 70 pounds of marijuana in Redstone in March, according to the complaint.
The complaint also alleges that Charles Kallas and Walkowiak were connected to Israel, thanks to an introduction from Blank, who along with his courier, James Wingers, transported marijuana between Colorado and Chicago as early as 2002.
In October 2004, Blank was indicted on separate drug charges in northern Illinois, but he was exonerated in 2005. Even so, Blank and Wingers were listed in the complaint in connection with a large marijuana transaction between Colorado and sources in Maine.
From the spring of 2005 to the spring of 2006, Kallas made at least three trips to Colorado to pick up some 100 pounds of marijuana from Israel ” marijuana he sold in Milwaukee, according to the complaint.
On April 5, Wisconsin law-enforcement officials set up an arranged buy with Israel in a park in Redstone. An informant gave Israel $106,000, and law-enforcement officials followed Israel to a house at 139 Cherokee Lane in Redstone ” the principle home of Donald Teeple.
After Israel left Teeple’s home, officers stopped Israel’s vehicle and found 70 pounds of marijuana, the complaint says. A search of the Redstone home uncovered 800 pounds of marijuana and $11,500 in currency hidden under a rock in the backyard, court documents allege. Israel paid Don Teeple some $1,500 per month to store the marijuana at the Redstone stash location, according to the complaint.
Israel led officers to a house at 323 311 County Road in Silt, where officers recovered $65,000 buried in a garage.
Through an informant, law-enforcement officials traced Israel’s marijuana supply to “Beto,” an alias for Contreras-Magellanas, who collected payments from couriers in Tuba City, Ariz.
From 2005, Contreras-Magellanas provided more than 1,500 pounds of marijuana that was stored in Colorado and distributed in Milwaukee, according to the complaint.
On July 12, law-enforcement officials arranged a meeting in Silt where Israel would pay Contreras-Magellanas some $280,000 for marijuana he’d sent from Arizona to Colorado.
After the meeting, officers arrested Contreras-Magellanas and his cousin, Daniel Cocoa-Vega.