KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Attorneys for the districts of Kansas and Western Missouri hosted a joint press conference Wednesday to announce a new Kansas City-area task force targeting drug traffickers and violent criminals on both sides of the Missouri river.
The local Kansas City office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joins other federal, state and local, law enforcement partners working on the Kansas City Metro Strike Force, a cooperative Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement task force (OCDETF), under the Department of Justice.
“The Strike Force already is conducting investigations and filing charges against the criminals who are poisoning our community with drugs and violence,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister, District of Kansas. “Crime does not stop at the state line and neither does the Strike Force.”
“This new Strike Force presents a united front against drug trafficking and violent crime throughout the metropolitan area,” said U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison, Western District of Missouri. “We are marshaling agents and officers from both Missouri and Kansas under the same roof and equipping them with additional investigative resources to better protect our community from the violent scourge of drug trafficking.”
The task force, which launched in April 2019, targets drug trafficking organizations that are making the streets of Kansas City more violent by importing large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs from Mexico and elsewhere.
Kansas City joins OCDETF strike forces in major cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, North Texas, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Juan, Southeast Michigan and Tampa.
The OCDETF strike force in metro Kansas City includes members from the following agencies: FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and police departments from both sides of Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri); Jackson County (Missouri) Drug Task Force; U.S. Marshals Service; ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service; Kansas Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Kansas and the Western District of Missouri will prosecute the task force’s cases in federal court.
The goal of the strike force is to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations, including gangs, cartels, and others that are trafficking in drugs and firearms, or engaging in money laundering.
Participating agencies have agreed to assign full-time personnel to the strike force. Police officers, federal agents, and prosecutors are working together under one roof. For security reasons, this location is not being publicized.
As an example of the work already completed by the task force, an investigation across state lines resulted in separate – but related – indictments being brought in both Kansas and Missouri last month.
In Kansas City, Kansas, the strike force investigated a case (U.S. v. Jose Manuel Delgado-Hernandez, et al.) that resulted in federal drug conspiracy charges against six men who are accused of distributing methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl that came to Kansas through a pipeline that begins in Mexico. During this investigation, law enforcement seized 19 pounds of methamphetamine, 66 pounds of marijuana, and firearms, including handguns and a military style rifle.
In Kansas City, Missouri, the parallel investigation resulted in a case (U.S. v. Christie D. Holloway, et al) that included federal drug conspiracy charges against four defendants who are accused of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. One of the defendants is also accused of illegally possessing a firearm.
The charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
Erik Smith, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge: “The DEA Kansas City District Office is pleased to collaborate with our federal, state, and local partners in this Strike Force endeavor. The prevalence of drugs and violence is a threat to this community, and a concerted focus on addressing these threats is required from all federal, state, and local law enforcement. We are committed to doing our part.”
The prosecutions announced in this release were brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s OCDETF Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for establishing permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led, co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven.