Four Rhinelander residents arrested, charged following drug investigation
Authorities searching for fifth suspect
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – A months-long investigation in Oneida County has resulted in four Rhinelander residents charged with conspiracy to manufacture and sell methamphetamine.
Jacob Simon, 41; Kimberly Baenen, 36; Ryan Culver, 37; and David Lassiter, 39, were arrested last week following an investigation by members of the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, Northcentral Drug Enforcement Group, Rhinelander Police Department and Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigations.
The four have allegedly distributed approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine in the Northwoods. Quantities seized during the investigation reportedly tested positive for fentanyl.
After appearing before Judge Michael Bloom, the defendants were jailed with cash bonds ranging from $10,000.00 to $60,000.00.
Authorities are looking for a fifth suspect, Benjamin Somers, 35.
According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement worked with several sources last summer to determine Jacob Simon’s movements, including traveling to Minnesota to purchase methamphetamine. Investigators also allegedly confirmed that numerous people where sending money to Simon and Kimberly Baenen through an online payment app.
In September, while serving a sentence in the Oneida County jail, the criminal complaint states Simon told Sheriff’s Department interviewers, “I’m done man. What do ya guys got or know or want to know?”
The complaint says Simon went on to state he wondered why investigators didn’t interview him sooner, saying, “Thought you guys would just get to the head of the snake.”
Simon reportedly went on to say that over three or four months, he had received approximately 40 pounds of methamphetamine, paying approximately $2,500.00 per pound, which he would sell for $100.00 per ounce. Simon also stated he wasn’t selling drugs for the money, but to sustain his meth addiction, according to the complaint.
Investigators, per the criminal complaint, uncovered a dozen transactions showing approximately $25,000.00 was sent to a Mexican cartel for the purchase of methamphetamine.
Baenen reportedly acknowledged she was “involved with an international exchange of money for controlled substances with people in Mexico,” during an interview in September.
Conspiracy to manufacture/deliver amphetamines is a Class C felony in Wisconsin, punishable by a fine up to $100,000.00 or up to 40 years in prison, or both.