Federal judge will keep two more co-defendants in jail pending trials in drug trafficking case
Authorities say hundreds of pounds of ice meth being distributed
A federal magistrate will keep two more co-defendants in jail pending trials on charges of trafficking large quantities of crystal or ice methamphetamine and cocaine in Eastern Iowa and possibly outside of the state.
Matthew Martin, a Cedar Rapids police officer and DEA Task Force agent, testified last week and again on Tuesday about wiretaps used during an investigation in which nine defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances from November 2012 through August 2016.
Kyle Chyma, 28, formerly of Cedar Rapids now living in Omaha, Neb., and Scott Steuhm, Jr., 24, of Tama, will remain in jail pending trials. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Two others charged in the conspiracy, Kailyn Struve, 25, of Toledo, and Tyler Walz, 22, of Tama, were released on special conditions Tuesday pending trial. They also have pleaded not guilty.
Others indicted on the conspiracy charge: Kelbie Struve, 24, of Toledo; Edgar Fabian Hernandez, 30, of Toledo; Juan Carlos Hernandez-Lopez, 31; Marlene Hernandez, 24, of Toledo; and Alejandra Castillo-Hernandez, 45, of Marshalltown.
According to the indictment unsealed last week, Chyma, Edgar Hernandez, Hernandez-Lopez and Steuhm are accused of distributing at least 500 grams or more of a mixture containing meth, which contained 50 grams or more of pure meth.
Kelbie and Kailyn Struve, Marlene Hernandez and Alejandra Castillo-Hernandez are accused of distributing at least 50 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine, which contained 5 grams or more of pure meth.
Walz is accused of distributing cocaine and Chyma and Kailyn Struve are also accused of distributing cocaine. Chyma is also charged with money laundering.
Prosecutors also ask for a forfeiture of $1 million or more from all the defendants for the illegal profits they made in the distribution of illegal drugs, the indictment shows.
Martin testified Tuesday that a cooperating witness conducted controlled buys from Chyma for 2 ounces of crystal meth and also conducted a controlled buy from Castillo-Hernandez at his house in Marshalltown.
Martin said authorities also had wiretaps on Chyma’s phone for about three months. During the investigation, agents determined Chyma was a leader in the conspiracy handling pound quantities of drugs and the proceeds in Eastern Iowa and outside of Iowa. Agents also determined Steuhm was a leader in the Tama area and also moving pound quantities of meth.
Chyma and Steuhm in the wiretap conversations discussed having a backlog of 300 pounds of meth and complaining about “Budha,” nickname for Edgar Hernandez, getting “semi after semi” of drugs, Martin said. The men also discussed paying $5,000 a pound for meth and discussing making a profit margin of $7,000-8,000 on one pound.
Martin said the purity level of the meth tested was over 90 percent.
Lawyers for Chyma and Steuhm both questioned where is the evidence of those hundreds of pounds of meth and thousands or millions of dollars from the sales.
Martin admitted only ounces of meth were found on Chyma during controlled buys and he had $8,000 in cash on him when arrested. Authorities also only found a few ounces or grams of meth in Steuhm’s home during a search. A cooperating witness, however, was caught with over 10 pounds and another one had over 20 pounds of meth.
U.S. District Chief Magistrate Jon Scoles ultimately ruled Chyma and Steuhm will stay in jail pending trial based on the evidence, their criminal histories and the possible flight risk because both, if convicted could face substantial prison time.