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Drug suspects up to 14; agencies stay silent

Published: Saturday, June 8, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST
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Ryan Fenton
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Vanessa Echartea
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Lisa Echartea
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Cris Garza
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Juan M. Gonzales
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Joe Waldschmidt
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Curtis Smith
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James Sigel
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Joshua Rascon
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Cory Olalde
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William Maloney

The names of two more people charged in a drug investigation were released Friday, bringing the total to 14. All are accused of dealing drugs in Whiteside County.

Ryan Fenton, 26, was charged with delivery of 1 to 15 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and conspiracy to deliver 1 to 15 grams within 1,000 feet of a school.

Vanessa Echartea, 36, was charged with conspiracy to deliver 30 to 500 grams of marijuana, conspiracy to deliver drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, and possession of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Law enforcement agencies have stayed silent about the cases.

The Blackhawk Area Task Force, a group of area police departments that cooperate in drug cases, is in charge of the investigation. The attorney general’s office is handling prosecutions.

The task force didn’t return messages Thursday and Friday. Scott Mulford, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, declined to comment.

“There’s nothing more that we can add at the moment,” he said.

Authorities had kept the cases under wraps, which meant court records were sealed. A few hours after Sauk Valley Media started asking questions, the state police, a task force member, gave the green light for the courts to make the files on the suspects publicly available.

Sauk Valley Media found out about the investigation when a woman expressed concern that the Whiteside County Jail wasn’t adequately addressing her brother’s health problems. Her brother was among those arrested.

According to online court records, those charged were:

• Lisa Echartea, 39 – delivery of 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana, attempted delivery of 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana

• Andrew Fenton, 33 – delivery of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana, conspiracy.

• Cris Garza, 45 – conspiracy to deliver 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana, possession of 10 to 30 grams of marijuana

• Juan M. Gonzales, 41 – delivery of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana, delivery of 15 to 100 grams of marijuana, conspiracy to deliver more than 5,000 grams, conspiracy to deliver more than 5,000 grams of marijuana

• Sherman Hopkins – delivery of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana 500 to 2,000 grams

• William Maloney, 32 – conspiracy to deliver 1 to 15 grams of cocaine, narcotics near school or park

• Cory Olalde, 36 – delivery of 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana, money laundering

• Joshua Rascon, 38 – possession of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, felony possession of firearm, conspiracy

• James Sigel, 39 – delivery of cocaine, conspiracy

• Curtis Smith, 61 – delivery of 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana, conspiracy, possession of 10 to 30 grams of marijuana

• Joe Waldschmidt, 57 – delivery of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy

• Johnny Ward – delivery of 1 to 15 grams of cocaine, delivery of cocaine near school or park.

 

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