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September 5, 2013

Wiretaps, info led to drug arrests

Alleged ringleader remains at large

Court documents filed for several defendants in Tuesday's large meth bust reveal a large drug network that delivered meth from California to Daviess County.

Probable cause affidavits were filed in state cases against the 15-person drug ring. On Tuesday, 14 involved in the ring were taken into custody by local, state and federal officers. One person, David Merritt, remains at-large, according to the Daviess County Sheriff's Department.

According to the affidavits filed, Merritt, along with Chris Kimmons, Alan Marshall, James Coy and Marcus Newson, are alleged to be the key individuals of the organization. All five, along with Antoin Alston of Long Beach, Calif., have been indicted in federal court with conspiracy to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine.

The trail that led to the organization's demise started in Oct. 2012 when members of the Evansville DEA task force, along with the sheriff's department and Indiana State Police initiated an investigation based on "information from cooperating sources."

Based on information from the investigation, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young authorized three wiretaps in June 2013. On June 13, a tap was authorized for a cellphone used by Marshall and a cellphone tap for Merritt was authorized on June 11. A third cellphone tap was authorized on June 27.

The affidavits, filed in Daviess Superior Court, were for those charged under state law. They include Adam Tolbert, Rhonda Lewis, Jennifer Sandoval, Jeffrey Fox and Eunice Lesure, all of Washington. All were arrested on charges of dealing in or conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and were still being held on $500,000 bond. Fox was released on bond and an attempt to reach him was unsuccessful.

For charges on Tolbert, Lewis and Fox, the affidavits listed telephone conversations with Marshall and Merritt. For Tolbert, several wiretaps recorded said he allegedly asked for meth he was going to sell to others, including several ounces.

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