Two Independence residents are among 10 defendants who have been added to a federal indictment for a near-$10 million methamphetamine distribution ring in the metro area.
Justin Warren, 31, and Crystell Smith, 34, of Independence, were among the new defendants charged in a 44-count second superseding indictment returned under seal this week by a federal grand jury in Kansas City. The indictment, which includes 17 total defendants, was unsealed Friday after several defendants were arrested and made their first court appearances. The alleged conspiracy to distribute almost 1,000 kilograms of meth and launder money lasted from September 2018 to November 2019.
Besides Warren and Smith, also added to the indictment were:
• Fahrudin “Frank” Fejzic, 48; Steven “Pops” Lyons, 60; Shelly Marie Exton, 38; Mary Corona, 38; and Jesus Banuelos Jr., 21, of Kansas City
• Lesley A. Wilkerson, 45, of Clinton
• Jessica “Barbie” Ashworth, 30, of Kansas City, Kansas
• John W. Tatom, 48, of Leavenworth, Kansas
Previously on the indictment:
• Mirza Alihodzic, also known as “Poni Boi” or “Russian,” 34, a citizen of Bosnia residing in Kansas City
Jason Rice, 42; Brandy Foster, 37; and Keith Dale Hughes, 48, of Kansas City
• Michael Becher, 38, of Raytown
• Joshua Brown, 36, of Leavenworth
• Amy Janish, 44, of Lincoln
According to court documents, the indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, based on a conservative street price of $2,300 for a half-pound of meth and distribution of 979 kilograms, of more than $9.96 million.
In addition to the two conspiracy counts, Alihodzic is also charged with seven various counts of gun charges and three counts related to distributing meth. The indictment also charges various other defendants in the remaining counts with illegally possessing guns and with possessing and distributing meth.
According to court documents, Alihodzic made arrangements with a confidential source to pilot a plane to California to purchase 40 kilograms of meth from a Mexican national wanted by federal agents for drug trafficking. On the day of the trip in November, the two individuals went to Alihodzic’s residence and federal agents heard an apparent confrontation with possible gunfire and arrested Alihodzic. Twice earlier in 2019, officers had seized guns and drugs after confrontations with Alihodzic.