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Kevin John Karll, 66, of House Spring was the first of 16 people to plead guilty to playing a role in a drug ring that stretched from Los Angeles to St. Louis. The ring distributed methamphetamine throughout the St. Louis area from January 2019 through January 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.

Authorities arrested 12 people from the St. Louis and surrounding area in connection with the case, including five Jefferson County residents and a Eureka woman. Four people from California also were arrested, the report said.

Karll pleaded guilty Oct. 13 to a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In exchange, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped a charge that had been filed against him for conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to his plea agreement.

Karll’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 11 in the Eastern District Court of Missouri in front of U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White. Karll faces 10 years to life in prison and a fine up to $10 million, according to the plea agreement.

Other Jefferson County residents charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering are Matthew Joseph Aubin of Imperial, Sarah Nicole Reynolds of De Soto, Joseph Michael Suraud of Arnold and Alexandra Marni Chambers of Arnold. In addition, Deidre Denise Medcalf of Eureka faces distribution and money laundering charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Other St. Louis-area residents indicted in connection with the ring included Brendon Darnell Thomas of St. Louis, Joseph Robert Holliman of St. Louis, Jacqueline Renee Harris of St. Charles, Thomas William Fogle of Bonne Terre, Richard Leroy Clark of Farmington and David Michael Nuelle of St. Louis, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Those from California included Dedrick Deshon Jordan, Clifford Dwight Davis Jr. and Maria D. Flores-Cervantes, all of Los Angeles, along with Terry James Williams of Carson, Calif., the report said.

Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Jefferson County Municipal Enforcement Group investigated the suspects for more than a year. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Arnold Police, St. Charles Police, St. Charles County Police, Phelps County Sheriff’s Office and Normandy Police also helped with the case.

On Sept. 26. 2019, Karll and Aubin reportedly were seen entering a Valley Park apartment where Thomas lived. The two were stopped shortly after leaving the apartment, and investigators allegedly found 224.2 grams of meth in the car they were in, Karll’s plea agreement said.

On June 18, 2020, investigators joined members of the St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to search locations associated with Thomas Holliman and Jordan. Investigators allegedly seized more than $140,000 in cash, meth, high-grade marijuana, two assault rifles and four handguns in the raids, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Investigators also allegedly found 28 pounds of meth and a gun in a secret compartment in a vehicle that was stopped on its way to St. Louis the day of the raids, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Karll’s plea agreement said the ring was responsible for distributing more than 50 grams of meth over a two-year period, and authorities seized more than 15 kilograms of meth throughout the investigation.

Ebony Silinzy, 43, of St. Louis has been indicted separately for obtaining firearms for Holliman, a convicted felon who is not allowed to purchase or have a firearm, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Along with the distribution and money laundering charges, Thomas and Holliman also have been charged with possessing one or more firearms to further a drug-trafficking crime and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, according to the indictment.

The meth offense carries a penalty of life in prison, a fine up to $10 million or both. The money laundering offense is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $500,000, or both.

Possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking carries a penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine up to $250,000, consecutive to any other sentence imposed. The defendants charged with being felons in possession of a firearm can be punished by up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul D’Agrosa is handling the case.

“It takes a collective effort with our DEA counterparts to identify and investigate members of these illegal drug-trafficking organizations,” said Marissa Lee, DEA St. Louis Division acting assistant agent in charge. “As a result, this investigation yielded a successful outcome on the dismantlement of a major criminal enterprise.”