Two Columbia, Three California Residents Charged in Meth Conspiracy
JEFFERSON CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two Columbia, Mo., residents and three Compton, Calif., men were charged in federal court today in separate but related cases for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine following their arrests earlier this week, which resulted in a manhunt and the lockdown of a nearby elementary school.
Zachary T. Fennell, 37, and Melissa Guerra, 33, both of Columbia, and Favbion D. Holmes, 38, Kameron T. Howard, 25, and Dijon R. Brown, 23, all of Compton, were charged in separate complaints filed in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., for participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and for possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. The defendants were arrested on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 and will have their initial court appearances today. Fennell, Holmes, Howard and Brown remain in federal custody pending their detention hearings.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaints, St. Louis, Mo., postal inspectors identified a suspicious parcel on Nov. 6, 2015, that was mailed from California to an address in the 4000 block of E. Santa Barbara Drive in Columbia, Mo., and suspected to contain a controlled substance. Federal agents recovered 456 grams of methamphetamine, valued at more than $11,000, from the parcel inside a hollowed-out book.
Federal agents executed a controlled delivery of the parcel to the Columbia residence on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. Officers conducting surveillance of the residence saw two men leave the house at approximately 9:55 a.m. in a white Chevrolet Suburban. The parcel was delivered at 10:04 a.m. and placed next to the front door. A man inside the residence was observed opening and closing the front door of the residence several times, the affidavit says, and viewing the package through the screen of the storm door.
According to the affidavit, the white Chevrolet Suburban, which had previously left the residence, was observed driving past the residence at approximately 10:31 a.m., conducting what appeared to be counter-surveillance. After passing the residence one time, the vehicle returned and parked in the driveway of the residence at approximately 10:33 a.m. Brown and the driver got out of the vehicle; Brown took the parcel off the front porch, the affidavit says, and brought it inside the residence. At approximately 10:36 a.m., Fennell was observed bringing the parcel back outside the residence and placing it next to the front door. Several occupants of the residence were observed sitting near the front porch.
Shortly thereafter federal agents, assisted by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, approached the residence to execute the search warrant. SWAT members were unable to breach the door as it had been reinforced. SWAT members made entry in a secondary location and agents saw Howard, Brown and Holmes running out the back door of the residence attempting to evade law enforcement. They hopped the backyard fence and continued running into an area of overgrown vegetation. Holmes was apprehended a short distance on the other side of the fence. Howard and Brown were apprehended hiding in a pool shed approximately one-quarter to a half-mile away, after a brief manhunt which resulted in the lockdown of a nearby elementary school. Fennell was apprehended in the front yard of the residence. Guerra, the leaseholder of the residence, was apprehended inside the residence.
Law enforcement officers also located three loaded firearms inside the residence, a small amount of methamphetamine in the freezer and in an upstairs bedroom dresser, and various documents that appeared to be ledgers for narcotics transactions.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in these complaints are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department and the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.