A Lee’s Summit, Mo., couple are among 13 defendants who have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a $62 million conspiracy to distribute more than 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, and a money laundering conspiracy.
Howard Christian Walters, also known as “Chris,” 41, and his wife, Nina Walter, 37, both of Lee’s Summit; Louis Walker, 47, of Richmond, Mo.; Jose Luis Armendariz-Rascon, also known as “Uncle” or “Rambo,” 38, and Jesus Salvador Campoy-Estrada, also known as “Chava” or “Chavita,” 24, both citizens of Mexico residing in Kansas City, Kan.; Franciso Gastelum-Valdez, 51, of Overland Park, Kan.; Miguel Armendariz-Rascon, 30, a citizen of Mexico residing in Olathe, Kan.; Mark High, 52, and Antonio Starks-Fewell, 33, both of Springfield, Mo.; Otilio Zaragoza-Navarrette, 62, a Mexican national and lawful permanent resident, and Pamela Salais, 30, and her sister, Luisa Maria Salais, 28, all of El Paso, Texas; Armando Rosales, Jr., 29, of San Elizario, Texas; were charged in a 20-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.
That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of most of the defendants.
Howard Walters is the owner of L & H Auto Sales in Kansas City, Mo.
The federal indictment alleges that Howard Walters, Jose Armendariz-Rascon, Campoy-Estrada, High, Starks-Fewell, Miguel Armendariz-Rascon, Zaragoza-Navarrett, Rosales, Pamela Salais and Luisa Salais participated in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine from October 2013 to Nov. 15, 2018.
In addition to the conspiracy, Howard Walters is charged with seven counts of distributing cocaine. Howard Walters also is charged with Campoy-Estrada, High and Starks-Fewell in one count of aiding and abetting the possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and in one count of aiding and abetting the possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
The federal indictment alleges that Howard and Nina Walters, Campoy-Estrada, Gastelum-Valdez and Walker participated in a money-laundering conspiracy during the same time frame, from October 2013 to Nov. 15, 2018.
In addition to the money-laundering conspiracy, Howard Walters is charged with three counts of money laundering for allegedly purchasing a 2017 Dodge Ram pickup truck and a 2013 Suzuki motorcycle, and the lease of a 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS550, with the proceeds of drug trafficking. Howard Walters and Walker also are charged together in one count of money laundering for allegedly purchasing a 2011 Porsche Panamera with the proceeds of drug trafficking.
Campoy-Estrada is also charged with two counts of money laundering for the alleged purchase of a residence and of a 2011 Cadillac Escalade with the proceeds of drug trafficking.
Howard and Nina Walters also are charged together in one count of money laundering. Nina Walters is also charged with one count of money laundering.
Gastelum-Valdez is also charged with two counts of money laundering related to the alleged purchase of a residential property with the proceeds of drug trafficking.
The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations, which would require Jose Armendariz-Rascon to forfeit at least $62.4 million, which was received in exchange for the unlawful distribution of cocaine (based on a sale price of $30,000 per kilogram of cocaine and distribution of no less than 10 kilograms of cocaine per week for a period of at least four years).
Several defendants would also be required to forfeit to the government four residential properties, including Howard and Nina Walters’s residence in Lee’s Summit and Campoy-Estrada’s residence in Kansas City. Howard Walters, Campoy-Estrada, High, Starks-Fewell, Miguel Armendariz-Rascon, Zaragoza-Navarrett, Rosales, Pamela Salais and Luisa Salais would be required to forfeit to the government a money judgment in the amount of the proceeds received in exchange for the unlawful distribution of cocaine.
The charges contained in this indictment 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.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Smith. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Lee’s Summit, Mo., Police Department.