Four Face Federal Charges for Running Cartel-Supplied Meth Ring in Casper
Eight people were arrested, four of them having been charged in federal court, in a significant Casper-area methamphetamine trafficking ring which was reportedly supplied in part by a foreign drug cartel.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation worked the case for roughly 14 months before finally arresting Richard Lee Wickham -- the chief defendant in a federal case -- with about two-thirds of a pound of methamphetamine in his possession, on June 27, 2016.
Agents with the Department of Homeland Security also helped investigate. In total, eight people were arrested for involvement in Wickham's drug ring, while a number of people who were associated with Wickham or his co-conspirators were arrested in separate cases.
Court documents say Wickham brought enormous quantities of methamphetamine up from Colorado to sell in Casper and other parts of Wyoming. He rented vehicles to transport the drugs and used large magnets to conceal drugs beneath his vehicle.
On one occasion in February 2016, Wickham reportedly hid 25 pounds of meth in drywall compound and took it to his house in the 3000 block of Whispering Springs Drive in Casper.
He also allegedly brought in nine or ten pounds of heroin at one point.
Wickham would hold large get-togethers, including a barbecue, in order to distribute the meth to others, who in turn would sell it in the Casper and Gillette areas.
On other occasions, Wickham would deliver the meth to his buyers by concealing the drugs in bags, tools and potentially even a bucket of sheet rock mud. Wickham would often have buyers come to his house, where he would either deposit the meth directly into a buyer's vehicle or go for a short drive with a buyer and leave the meth with them.
And it all happened while a police officer lived just half a block away.
In 2005, Wickham was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison for unlawful possession of a silencer and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Those charges were filed in U.S. District Court in the District of New Mexico.
While in prison in Florence, Colo., Wickham met John Todd Allen. Wickham was released from prison in 2010 and successfully completed a term of federal probation. Allen was also later released from prison.
Court documents say as early as January 2014, Wickham bought methamphetamine from Patrick Gene Patterson of Colorado. Patterson obtained 10-20 pounds of meth every two weeks and would reportedly bring loads of drugs to Wickham's house.
By the end of August 2015, Allen was dealing meth for Wickham in the Casper area. At that point, Wyoming DCI agents had been investigating Wickham for months, having started their investigation in April 2015.
The first time Allen bought meth from Wickham, he received a quarter-pound. Crystal Stegelman, who was with Allen at the time, took most of the quarter-pound and sold it to people in Casper.
A confidential informant later described Stegelman as Wickham's "main liquidator" of methamphetamine, according to court documents. In June 2015, Wickham began fronting two to three ounces of meth at a time to Stegelman at least three times a week. He charged Stegelman $1,200 per ounce and continued fronting her meth through June 2016.
Stegelman worked at an Evansville bar and made an appearance on the Judge Judy television show. She sold meth to at least four different people.
In the fall of 2015, Wickham took a trip to Florida to visit family, according to court documents. While he was gone, Patterson -- his Colorado connection -- stayed at Wickham's house in Casper and ran the show, dealing to Allen and others in Wickham's stead.
Allen continued to get an average of an ounce of meth per week from Wickham until, in late October 2015, Allen went to rehab. Over that period, Allen received a total of a half-pound of meth from Wickham.
Wickham, according to an affidavit, became associated with a member of a drug cartel. Patterson also dealt with cartel suppliers.
Two cartel representatives would take turns spending weeks at Wickam's house in order to oversee the operation. The representatives, described in court documents as Mexican men, were to be treated with respect.
Allen got out of rehab in early January 2016 and went to Wickham's house about a month later. Allen smoked meth with WIckham and resumed dealing for him.
From January until his arrest on May 3, Allen got a quarter-pound of meth from Wickham each week on average. On one occasion, Allen got half a pound.
Authorities say Wickham was crafty -- he didn't deal with many people and never discussed drugs on the phone. In May 2016, Wickham was reportedly moving "more volume than ever," according to charging papers, but was also taking more precautions.
Court documents say Wickham's sons would use disposable cell phones to call customers.
Wickham or his sons reportedly made at least three or four drug runs each month, quickly getting rid of the drugs upon returning to Casper. Wickham did not deal in small quantities, and would cut heroin with brown sugar at his house.
Allen, Quintin Oler -- also known as "Q" -- and "a couple guys" out of Gillette were the people who primarily dealt methamphetamine for Wickham. Oler and Wickham had also met in Florence, Colo., where Wickham had met Allen while the two were in prison.
Through Patterson, Wickham met Jesse Collin Lowe. Wickham bought methamphetamine by the pound from Lowe beginning in early 2016, traveling to Lowe's house in Denver to pick up the meth and then returning to Casper to sell it.
Allen reportedly sold meth to both Levi Fay and Fady Majed Osseiren. Allen would take meth to Fay's garage once each week, and at one point handed $10,000 to Wickham while at Fay's house.
Osseiran got out of rehab at roughly the same time as Allen and started getting meth from Allen in February 2016. That same month, a woman named Violet Crockett met both men and began dating Osseiran a short time later.
She reportedly moved in with Osseiran and the two used meth together, which Osseiran would provide.
At first, Osseiran was getting an eighth of an ounce of meth at a time, but later started getting an ounce each day from Allen. Osseiran would sell most of the meth to other people in order to support his and Crockett's habit.
Crockett was one of two people who drove Osseiran around town to sell meth; in exchange, she'd receive a "teener" -- 1/16 of an ounce -- of meth each day. Crockett also picked up and dropped off money for Osseiran in the Casper area.
On Feb. 19, Patterson was arrested in Colorado with 189 grams of meth, 11 grams of cocaine, an unspecified amount of ecstasy, $5,100 in cash and a gun. Wickham evidently bailed Patterson out of jail and took Patterson to his house in Casper.
Agents learned Wickham had 25 pounds of meth at his house at the time.
On April 22, Jesse Lowe and other co-conspirators of Wickham's were arrested in Denver with about 10 pounds of meth, according to an affidavit. But that apparently didn't deter Wickham.
Wickham supplied meth to a man named Joshua Erick, who court documents say was a known methamphetamine dealer in the Gillette area. On May 2, agents watching Wickham's house saw Wickham loading a bucket of sheetrock mud and a bucket of tools into the back of Erick's SUV.
Three days later, a confidential informant told agents Erick had been at the National 9 motel in Gillette with a large amount of meth in a five-gallon bucket, as well as a Crown Royal bag full of money.
Erick was later arrested as part of a separate investigation.
On May 3, police stopped Allen as he rode his motorcycle. He was arrested.
On May 12, agents saw Wickham and one of his sons wearing gloves while cleaning out a rented SUV. Agents learned that Wickham often rented vehicles for weeks at a time.
Then, on June 27, DCI and DEA agents watching Wickham's house saw a white pickup leave the home. The driver of the pickup drove to a coffee shop on Center Street, where he picked up Wickham.
Before leaving the area, Wickham put a tool bag into the bed of the truck. Agents knew that Wickham commonly used that particular tool bag to transport meth.
Agents also knew Wickham had recently made a trip to Colorado to buy more meth.
Casper police officers stopped the pickup. A drug dog sniffed around and alerted to the vehicle.
A search turned up two-thirds of a pound of methamphetamine, reportedly in Wickham's possession.
The man who was with Wickham was supposed to use $500 Wickham had given him to rent a U-Haul trailer, then take the trailer back to Wickham's house and hitch the trailer to Wickham's vehicle.
Wickham had been planning a trip to Denver and Fort Collins, as well as to Cheyenne. Agents knew Wickham distributed meth not just in Casper, but also in other parts of Wyoming.
Wickham pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in January to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
He could face 10 years to life imprisonment as well as a fine of $10,000,000 at his sentencing hearing, which is set for April 5. He remains in federal custody.
Patterson pleaded guilty in early March, also to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He could face the same penalty and is due to be sentenced in May. Patterson also remains in federal custody.
Allen pleaded guilty to the same crime as Wickham and Patterson. He could also face 10 years to life imprisonment as well as a $10,000,000 fine. His sentencing hearing is also set for April 5. Like Wickham and Patterson, he is being detained pending sentencing.
Stegelman was sentenced Jan. 5 in Natrona County District Court to a three- to five-year term of imprisonment on one felony count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Oler was convicted in March of one count of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Lowe is currently in custody in Colorado, with charges from the Wyoming case pending. He is named along with Wickham, Patterson and Allen as defendants in the federal case.
Authorities confirm Fay and a woman named Rebecca Gutierrez were also arrested as part of this investigation.