Federal agents say a series of raids carried out across the metro area Wednesday were aimed a breaking up a major synthetic drug network.
Local law enforcement and at least five federal agencies teamed up to conduct simultaneous raids in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Lincoln County and Jefferson County.
The DEA's acting agent in charge, James Shroba calls synthetic drugs a dangerous "new frontier" of drug use and abuse. "They hook kids with the idea that these are legal, synthetic drugs, when in fact, we know they're not," he said.
Shroba says yesterday's raids included sites that were being used to manufacture, package and distribute the drugs. "This is the tip of the iceberg," he said. "This is a significant, synthetic drug operation."
Dozens of members of a St. Louis area motorcycle club are accused of participating in a large drug ring.
Federal prosecutors issued charges against 25 people in total--24 from the metro area and one from Texas--for allegedly assisting in the distribution of methamphetamine. The suspects are aged from 22-61 years old and belong to the Saddle Tramps Motorcycle club.
Another member of the club, Melvin Sherrer faces murder charges for allegedly killing a Bonne Terre man and putting his body in an abandoned septic tank. Each suspect could face up to life in prison.
Those charged are as follows:
Jorge Lopez, 37, Corinth, Tx., Melvin Scherrer, 49, Bonne Terre, Alan Adler, 54, Bonne Terre, Brent Bouren, 42, St. Louis, Howard Pyatt, 55, Bonne Terre, Arvil Matthews, 50, Imperial, Mark Abney, 47, Bonne Terre, Amber Scism, 31, Farmington, Terri Fox, 47, St. Louis, Guillermo Navarro, 35, St. Louis, Jerry Addison, 66, St. Louis, Jerami Westenberger, 35, Arnold, Ray Davis, 46, Union, James Mitchell, 44, St. Louis, Patrick Tate, 41, St. Louis, Jimmie Johnson, 60, St. Clair, Donald Maguire, 54, Theodore Heege, 48, Norma Egan, 47, St. Louis, Donna Moss, 45, St. Louis, Sheila Heege, 47, St. Louis, Danielle Becker, 29, Park Hills, Haley Meier, 34, St. Louis, Heather Martin, 27, St. Louis and Amy Gorrell, 22, of Bonne Terre.
Seven men, including an East St. Louis Police detective, face federal drug charges.
Prosecutors say Detective Orlando Ward was found with 11 pounds of cocaine earlier this week. Ward, along with six East St. Louis residence have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and weapons charges.
Investigators believe the men are part of drug trafficking ring. The bust had a street value of more than $1 million.
Chief Michael Floore will hold a news conference Friday to discuss the charges.