Six federally indicted for major drug trafficking ring with Cartel connections
The men are accused of being members of a drug cartel that distributed enormous amounts of cash and more than a ton of marijuana from Bullitt County throughout the country.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- Six men -- some of whom with alleged connections to a drug cartel -- were indicted in federal court Friday on charges alleging they distributed enormous amounts of cash and more than a ton of marijuana from Bullitt County throughout the country.
The indictment included former Bullitt County Sheriff's Department special deputy Chris Mattingly, who authorities say was the head of a drug cell in Kentucky that coordinated with a cartel in Riverside, California and had links to Mexico. Ronnie Shewmaker, an alleged drug-money courier working for Mattingly, was also indicted.
The Bullitt County Drug Task Force arrested Shewmaker Thursday night at an apartment complex off Saint Andrews Church Road. He had previously been arrested in Perris, California with about $420,000 in cash. The Task Force has led the investigation into Mattingly and others.
Mattingly was also indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute meth. Investigators have also accused him of plotting to kill Capt. Mike Halbleib of the Bullitt County Drug Task Force, which has been leading the investigation.
Also indicted was Eddie Whitfill, described in court documents the caretaker of a Breckenridge County farm where Mattingly allegedly raised and sold chickens.
The other men indicted include James F. Howard, Raymundo Carillo and Hector Renato Orozco Landa. All of the defendants are also charged with conducting financial transactions knowing the funds were for illegal activity.
Carillo is described in court records as Mattingly’s contact in California. Investigators have dozens of wiretap conversations between the two men, according to court records.
Howard, Whitfill and Shewmaker are in custody and had a hearing in U.S. District Court on Friday. The men will be arraigned and have a bond hearing on Tuesday. It is not known if Carillo and Landa have been arrested. The men could face life in prison if convicted.
Mattingly has been in the Oldham County jail without bond since he was first indicted on drug charges in September.
Mattingly has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys, Brian Butler and Alex Dathorne, are trying to get a bond set and want the wiretap evidence suppressed, alleging it was illegally obtained.
The investigation into Mattingly started more than 2,200 miles away, when he surfaced last year talking on a wiretap investigators had on the cartel in Riverside, California.
The cartel is accused of distributing narcotics to several states, including Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Kentucky. Drug enforcement agencies from St. Louis, Lexington, Louisville and areas in California have been investigating for years.
Police have seized hundreds of thousands of dollars they claim are linked to Mattingly.
In October, for example, investigators seized $237,000 in cash linked to Mattingly. They took another $60,000 in November from a cooler in a vehicle at Mattingly’s car lot in Breckenridge County.
During at least part of the time Mattingly has been under investigation, he was serving as a special deputy to the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Department.
Special deputies are appointed by the sheriff and have the same powers as a regular deputy, with some exceptions, such as not being allowed to make arrests in domestic violence cases.
He worked as a special deputy in 2013 and 2014, the department said.
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