Operation “Saddle-Up” has roped in eight more alleged meth makers and distributors. They bring the total for the operation to 50 indictments in a bit more than a year.
McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker says that tally is “huge” for a rural area.
VanBrooker says the case illustrates the need for teamwork by law enforcement agencies.
He says, “They were tied into McDonough County and in historical cases you just keep going. And this is a continuation of the prior cases. They do buy pills in McDonough County. They do have associates in McDonough County. So it affects all of us.”
Agencies in McDonough, Fulton and Schuyler counties work with the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. That office prosecutes the defendants under federal laws which have stiffer penalties than state law.
Fulton County Sheriff Jeff Standard says none of the agencies could not have completed the investigation alone.
He says, “Their closest stores-they all come to Macomb to shop and they'll go to Rushville, and do their shopping there too. They travel back and forth among those areas and the borders don't really mater as far as the jurisdiction goes.”
Authorities arrested Christoper Kling, 37, Brandon Welker, 33, Francis Williams, 40, Amanda Cox, 29, Brandon Alford, 37, Nichole Westlake, 22, and Arlan Cox, 49, all of Astoria. Jeremiah Miller, 30 of Table Grove is already in the custody of the state Department of Corrections.
Although not part of the operation, Homer Weishaar, 39, of Browning in Schuyler County, was also arrested
Each is charged with conspiracy to manufacture more than 500 grams of meth from 2009 to the present. Each faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.