U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Missouri
July 15, 2015

Two California Men Arrested on Federal Conspiracy Charges in the Eastern District of Missouri for Distributing Drugs Via a Commercial Air Carrier

ST. LOUIS, MO—Two California men were arrested this morning in Los Angeles on charges of conspiring to import and distribute methamphetamine and cocaine into the St. Louis area via the commercial airlines. A third man remains at large.

Poe Purcell, 40; Chalamar Schultz Tuipelehake, 36; and Francis Frost, 32; were indicted by a federal grand jury on July 8, 2015 on multiple felony counts including conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and conspiracy to enter secured area of airport under false pretenses. Purcell and Tuipelehake were arrested in California and are awaiting court appearances. Frost remains at large and is being sought.

According to the indictment, PURCELL began working as an American Airlines Cargo Fleet Service Clerk at Los Angeles International Airport in 2001. During the course of the conspiracy, including the time period between February and May 2015, TUIPELEHAKE arranged for California drug traffickers to transport illegal controlled substances from Los Angeles, California on commercial airliners using PURCELL’s position with the airlines to avoid detection and facilitate the transport. FROST’s role involved retrieving the suitcases containing the drugs.

If convicted, these charges carry penalties ranging from ten years to life. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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