By RODNEY HART
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
ST. LOUIS — Ten of 11 people indicted in what authorities call a large Northeast Missouri methamphetamine manufacturing conspiracy case made their initial appearance in federal court Tuesday.
Nine Missouri residents and two from Illinois were indicted by a federal grand jury in June. They have been accused of several meth-related counts, including conspiracy to make meth and distribution of meth. The activity allegedly took place in Lewis County between 2009 and 2012.
LaGrange residents arrested were Felicia Shults, 34, Robert McKim Jr., 35 and Erick Winship, 31; Ewing residents Kevin Shults, 56, and Kitty Shults, 58; Palmyra residents Billie Bryan, 40, and Sean Bryan, 34; Canton resident Stacy Derecskey, 25; and LaBelle resident Christopher Robbins, 34.
Two Adams County, Ill., residents were arrested — Robert Cookson, 40, and Timothy Vonholt, 51.
Kitty and Kevin Shults are married, and Felicia Shults and Billie Bryan are their daughters, authorities said. Sean Bryan is married to Billie Bryan.
Cookson is in the Illinois Department of Corrections serving a five-year meth sentence and was the only one to not appear in court Tuesday.
Lewis County Sheriff Dave Parrish said officers have worked the case for more than two years. Sheriff's deputies and Northeast Missouri Drug Task Force served the arrest warrants early Tuesday.
"We are really pleased to have the support of the United States attorney, because so many of these people were crossing the river and involved in the manufacture of meth, and we found it hard to prosecute them in Missouri and Illinois," Parrish said. "We felt it was our best option to go federal."
Federal drug sentences are generally longer, and many convictions require 85 percent sentence completion before inmates are eligible for parole. Parrish said many of the defendants have previously been arrested for drugs.
The federal drug charges each carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison.
All 10 people who made court appearances Tuesday were released after court, pending the next hearing.