by Mary Lowers

Six Saguache County men were taken into federal custody on Thursday, May 2. They were charged with two federal complaints for selling some 20 pounds of marijuana to a drug operation in Oklahoma. The men were arrested without incident at the Alamosa airport and in the Crestone/Baca and Moffat area. All six were transported to a federal facility in the Denver area and five were released on personal recognicence bonds.

The six Saguache County men involved include: Curtis Frank Wagner, 49; David Geubelle, 45; Marty Shellabarger, Jr., 26; Skyler J. Freeman, 25; Shawn N. Maminakis, 34; and David Lincoln Steele, 48. Five men claim to be Colorado residents. David Geubelle is on record as being an Illinois resident.  Maminakis remained incarcerated due to firearms found in his vehicle.  All six of the accused arrested in Colorado are being charged with “conspiracy  to possess with the intent to distribute in the Western District of Oklahoma 100 kilograms or more of marijuana” according to a press release from the US Department of Justice, Western District of Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma City three individuals were arrested in connection with this incident. Terry Hardin Wilkerson, 71; William Jesse Hoge, 53; and Crystal Adams, 45. Wilkerson was taken into custody on Tuesday, April 29. Hoge and Adams were arrested on Thursday, May 2. Wilkerson has been known by law enforcement as a drug dealer and has been under surveillance since 2011 according to affidavits from Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Special Agent Samuel E. Ward. In April 2013 an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent met with Wilkerson and heard of his plans to distribute pot and cocaine from Colorado through Oklahoma and on to Chicago. A phone tap in March alerted the Drug Enforcement Task Force called Operation Stale Smoke about the deal going down in the San Luis V.alley This operation was carried out by the DEA with help and cooperation from the ATF and the US Department of Justice in Oklahoma, Colorado and Illinois.

The sworn affidavits of ATF Agent Ward and DEA Task Force Officer Eric VanGurp indicate that Wagner and Geubelle were the main contacts in Colorado. Negotiations to purchase marijuana through these two men were recorded by phone tap from March 20 through the end of April. Most conversations were conducted in code. They seem to indicate that Geubelle was the Chicago connection. A conversation between Wilkerson and Geubelle on March 20, according to the affidavits, included talk of hydroponic pot and “crushed ice” which is thought to be a code for methamphetamines. On March 23 Bill Hoge from Oklahoma was said to be “in Colorado in contact with someone operating a grow.” In a call between Wilkerson and Guebelle on March 26 Wilkerson was told, “The green man is suppose to be harvesting this week” with multiple pounds for distribution.

Both Wagner and Guebelle travelled to meet with Wilkerson and Hoge in Oklahoma City. Conversations recorded on March 29 and 30 talk about Wilkerson arranging a plane to pick up marijuana in Alamosa and flying it to Oklahoma City. There’s some indication in recorded conversations mentioned in the affidavits that the pot would be traded for cocaine. Affidavits show that the legal market in Colorado was paying $2000/pound for marijuana. Wagner, who was getting enough pot together from growers to satisfy the 20 pounds Wilkerson wanted, was told Oklahoma would pay $2200 to $2600/pound.

The operation was negotiating to buy or lease land in Saguache County to grow marijuana for export. Wagner and Wilkerson were recorded in conversations talking about a three- to five-acre ranch near Moffat. Wagner, who has a family in Oklahoma, allegedly grows pot in Colorado to support them. According to affidavit testimony he indicated to an undercover DEA agent in Oklahoma City that “we are talking about a monster deal up there.” On April 4 Wilkerson and Wagner met with an undercover agent to discuss their partnership to traffic pot from Colorado and possibly buy 12,000 acres there to grow pot.  Wilkerson paid an outstanding electric bill for Wagner with SLV Rural Electric Coop.

On April 10 Wagner flew on a DEA undercover plane to Alamosa with an agent posing as Wilkerson’s partner from Oklahoma.  Wagner and Shellabarger, according to the affidavit, assured the “partner” that they could provide all the marijuana Oklahoma wanted.  Wagner was paid $3800.00 in DEA official advance funds. According to affidavits and the Department of Justice press release it looks like the three Crestone defendants not shown to have direct dealings with Oklahoma were brought into the operation by Wagner, who was looking to get enough pot to make the deal go through. Trials are to take place in Oklahoma.

This reporter was unable to get comments from any of the defendants or their families. The facts in this article are from the Department of Justice press release and affidavits from Operation Stale Smoke surveillance of suspects.