Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sheriff's deputy receives Guardian of Justice Award for helping bring down drug trafficking ring

KANSAS CITY, KAN. --- Tireless investigative work by a Johnson County deputy sheriff was the key to bringing down a drug trafficking ring in Olathe that sold more than $16 million worth of designer drugs in just 14 months, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Deputy Christopher Farkes received the U.S. Attorney’s 2015 Guardian of Justice Award Tuesday. Farkes led a three-year investigation that resulted in federal indictments against 13 individuals including the owners of an Olathe-based business, Tracy Picanso and Roy Ehrett.

“Chris Farkes is very intelligent, with great intuition and a great passion for law enforcement,” Grissom said. “He was born to do the work he does.”

In December, Picanso and Ehrett each pleaded guilty to producing and selling misbranded and counterfeit drugs and conspiring to launder the proceeds. They admitted producing and selling dangerous controlled substances and controlled substance analogues of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and cocaine-like stimulants.

The products sold under exotic names such as Head Trip, Black Arts, Pump It, Grave Digger and Voodoo Doll. The operation stretched from Kansas to Missouri, California, Texas, Georgia and Colorado, involving more than 15 companies with more than 40 financial accounts at more than 10 financial institutions.

“Chris has great analytical skills and an incredible memory,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway, who is prosecuting the case. “He has the tenacity and the ability to review mountains of documentary evidence and to weave together an evidentiary chain we can rely on at trial.”

Ryan Williams and Joseph Daneff Receive Guardian Awards for Operation Broken Bone

Also receiving the Guardian of Justice Awards on Tuesday were FBI Special Agent Ryan Williams and Detective Joseph Daneff of the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

They worked on Operation Broken Bone, an investigation and successful prosecution of a drug trafficking ring that distributed more than $1.6 million worth of cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana in the Kansas City metro area.

The traffickers employed couriers for transporting drugs and money, and maintained multiple residences where drugs were stored and distributed. Part of the investigation required tracking drug proceeds that were laundered through gambling casinos.

“Investigators overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their quest for justice, leaving no stone unturned and no avenue unexplored,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken, who prosecuted the case.

Agencies involved in the joint investigation included the FBI, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

“These law enforcement officers help set the standards for the men and women who safeguard our neighborhoods and protect the citizens of Kansas,” Grissom said.

The Guardian of Justice Awards recognizes law enforcement officers who did outstanding work on cases that were successfully prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Since 2002, the award has been given to state and local law enforcement officers, as well as federal agents, who were nominated by federal prosecutors for their outstanding work.