Eight charged in local drug conspiracy

Heroin, meth, cocaine among drugs allegedly distributed
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Leader photo by Tim Ryan Jaral McCollum, one of eight people charged in a drug ring operated out of Shawano, waived his preliminary hearing at a court appearance Tuesday. Beside him is his defense attorney Jeffrey Haase. McCollum, described by authorities as the ringleader of the conspiracy, faces 15 felony charges.

Local authorities have busted up yet another large-scale drug ring operating out of Shawano County, this one being blamed for a significant increase in crack cocaine, meth and heroin trafficking in the area.

The case, in which eight parties have been charged, comes two years after authorities began prosecutions in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy that had been called the largest Shawano County had ever seen.

This time, a variety of drugs were involved, mostly brought into the city of Shawano from Milwaukee County, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, Fentanyl, synthetic marijuana and Ecstasy pills.

Shawano police and sheriff’s deputies over the past week arrested seven suspects in the case, with one more named in criminal complaints not yet in custody.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled Tuesday for the man authorities say was the center of the conspiracy.

Jaral R. McCollum, 39, of Shawano, faces 15 felony counts, including conspiracy to distribute and deliver heroin, meth and cocaine; possession with intent to deliver synthetic marijuana; possession with intent to deliver Fentanyl; multiple counts of possession or delivery of drugs near a school; two felony counts of maintaining a drug trafficking place; and several felony counts of possession.

Each of the three conspiracy counts carries a maximum possible penalty of 40 years in prison if convicted, and a $100,000 fine, though that penalty could be enhanced because of McCollum’s previous criminal convictions.

McCollum waived his preliminary hearing and was scheduled for arraignment on May 13. He is being held on a $75,000 cash bond.

According to the criminal complaint, McCollum and another alleged co-conspirator, Desiree Webster, 21, of Suring, made 50 trips to Milwaukee between January and June 2018, bringing back an estimated 7.14 ounces of heroin, 2.57 pounds of powdered cocaine, 2.57 pounds of crack cocaine and 1.34 pounds of meth.

During the course of the investigation, which began with a tip from an informant in August 2017, authorities learned McCollum’s alleged drug activity also stretched to Forest and Winnebago counties, according to the complaint.

According to Webster’s statement to authorities, McCollum was making $4,000 to $5,000 a week from dealing drugs and had “many customers in Shawano.”

In May 2018, McCollum also started selling synthetic marijuana “because it was in high demand on the Menominee reservation,” Webster told authorities.

Webster also told authorities McCollum wanted to move out of heroin and sell more meth because of recent heroin overdoses and because meth was available in Milwaukee and in high demand locally.

Webster faces felony charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, meth and cocaine; possession with intent to deliver cocaine, meth and synthetic marijuana; possession with intent to deliver Fentanyl; felony possession of marijuana; one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place; and seven felony counts of bail jumping.

In addition to McCollum and Webster, others charged as part of the conspiracy, all of them from Shawano, include:

• Georgia Johnson, 56, who allegedly allowed McCollum and Webster to stay at her Shawano residence rent-free to operate his drug dealing business and received “payment and other items” in exchange. She faces charges of conspiracy to deliver or distribute heroin, meth and cocaine, and one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place.

• Christine Hensel, 30, a user and seller of meth and heroin, according to the criminal complaint, is charged with three counts of conspiracy to deliver or distribute heroin, meth and cocaine, and one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place.

• Conjetta Lazzaro, 27, also a user and seller of meth and heroin, according to the complaint, faces the same charges as Hensel.

• Kyle Collins, 30, who was allegedly a regular customer of McCollum’s and worked in cooperation with him to bring in new customers, according to the complaint is charged with two counts of conspiracy to deliver or distribute meth and cocaine, and one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place. Collins remained at large as of press time. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

• Craig Johnston, 43, a major customer of McCollum’s for powder cocaine and meth, according to the complaint, put down payments on drugs before McCollum traveled to Milwaukee to purchase them. He faces two conspiracy counts for the delivery or distribution of meth and cocaine, and one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place.

• Andrea Hokenstad, 41, who was known to obtain drugs from McCollum for resale to others, according to the complaint, is charged with conspiracy to deliver meth and cocaine, and one count of maintaining a drug trafficking place.

Hensel, Hokenstad, Johnson and Johnston all had initial court appearances Tuesday.

Hensel was ordered held on a $40,000 cash bond. Her next court date is April 24.

Hokenstad was ordered held on a $20,000, with her next court appearance on April 29.

Johnson was ordered held on a $30,000 bond, with her next court appearance on May 6.

Johnston was ordered held on a $25,000 cash bond. His next court date is April 22.

The investigation was conducted by the Shawano Police Department, Shawano County Sheriff’s Department and Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal investigations.