MADISON, WIS. - A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments today. You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Three Trempealeau County Men Charged with Cocaine Conspiracy

Mark Ian Castro, 29, Cristian Andre Vazquez Velez, 22, and Michael Carmenatty Justiniano, 40, all of Independence, Wisconsin, are charged with conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The indictment alleges that this conspiracy operated from August 2020 to July 2021.

The indictment further alleges that on June 29, 2021, Mark Ian Castro and Cristian Andre Vazquez Velez possessed firearms in furtherance of this drug trafficking crime. The indictment also charges these two men with attempting to possess cocaine for distribution on July 6, 2021, and with attempting to possess 500 grams of more of cocaine for distribution on July 14, 2021.

If convicted, each of the three defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge. Mark Ian Castro and Cristian Andre Vazquez Velez each face a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years on the charge of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Federal law requires that any sentence imposed on this charge be served consecutive to any other prison sentence imposed. Those two also each face a maximum of 20 years on the charge of attempting to possess cocaine for distribution, and a mandatory minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years on the charge of attempting to possess 500 grams or more of cocaine for distribution.

The charges against the defendants are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service–Office of Inspector General; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation; Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Office; Winona County (Minnesota) Sheriff’s Office; Arcadia Police Department; and Independence Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chadwick Elgersma is handling the prosecution.

Beloit Man Charged with Drug & Gun Crimes

Eshawn M. Reed, 39, Beloit, Wisconsin, is charged with 3 counts of distributing crack cocaine, 1 count of possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, 1 count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and 1 count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that Reed distributed crack cocaine on April 6, July 19, and August 5, 2021. The indictment further alleges that on August 10, 2021, he possessed crack cocaine for distribution and a loaded Ruger 57 handgun.

If convicted, Reed faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the distribution charges and the charge of possessing crack cocaine for distribution. The felon in possession of a firearm charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years and the charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime has a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years. Federal law requires that any sentence imposed on the charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

The charges against Reed are the result of an investigation by the City and Town of Beloit Police Departments, Janesville Police Department, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Anderson is handling the prosecution.

La Crosse Man Charged with Drug Crimes Involving Fentanyl

Antoine Hardie, 36, La Crosse, Wisconsin, is charged with 5 counts of distributing fentanyl. The indictment alleges that Hardie distributed fentanyl on June 24, June 30, July 14, September 14, and September 17, 2021.

If convicted, Hardie faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the distribution charges. The charges against him are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, La Crosse Police Department, and Holmen Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin is handling the prosecution.

Wausau Man Charged with Distributing Methamphetamine

Jacob Ring, 30, Wausau, Wisconsin, is charged with 2 counts of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and 1 count of possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The indictment alleges that he distributed methamphetamine on June 18 and July 15, 2021 and that he possessed methamphetamine for distribution on August 13, 2021.

If convicted, Ring faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison on each count. The charges against him are the result of an investigation by the Central Wisconsin Drug Task Force; Wausau Police Department; Marathon County Sheriff’s Office; and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Taylor Kraus is handling the prosecution.

Middleton Man Charged with Gun Crime

Ramar A. Brown, 26, Middleton, Wisconsin, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that on October 12, 2021, Brown possessed a 9mm handgun.

If convicted, Brown faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Fitchburg Police Department, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Anderson is handling the prosecution.

Ashland Man Charged with Possessing Child Pornography

Adam M. Smith, 34, Ashland, Wisconsin, is charged with 1 count of possessing child pornography. The indictment alleges that on September 20, 2021, Smith possessed a Lenovo tablet containing visual depictions involving the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment further alleges that at least one of the depictions involved a minor who had not attained 12 years of age.

If convicted, Smith faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Ashland Police Department and Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman is handling the investigation.


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