CEDAR RAPIDS – Two men arrested in connection with a widespread drug probe dubbed “Ice Pirates” will remain in jail, a federal magistrate ruled Monday.
Magistrate Jon Stuart Scoles ordered Edward Behrends, 50, of Benton, Wis., and Alejandro Hernandez, 38, of Marshalltown, be detained pending trial on meth conspiracy charges.
Behrends and Hernandez were two of eight people charged in a criminal complaint filed last week as a years-long investigation culminated in 29 searches and arrests in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Denver, Marshalltown, Dubuque, Greeley and Benton, Wis. In all, authorities seized $250,000 in cash, six pounds of meth valued at $272,880, 14 firearms and five Dubuque red-phosphorous meth labs.
Randall Thysse, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha office, said the operation, which included simultaneous search warrants using nine tactical teams, was a joint effort involving 250 officers from dozens of agencies.
“It is truly a team effort, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Thysse said.
Lt. Corbin Payne with the Waterloo-based Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force said his agency has been working on the case for two or three years and had received substantial help from the FBI and the other agencies involved.
“Several agents were able to provide us with some outstanding equipment for the past couple years involving this case. The agents in our area have put thankless efforts into some of the case that has been done, along with my investigators and the state narcotics. … It’s finally wrapping up,” Payne said.
One of the eight, Dennis Sharkey II of Dubuque, remained at large as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Thysse. He is believed to still be in the Dubuque area.
Court records allege Behrends, an energy auditor at a Dubuque company, was seen traveling with Michael Bent of Denver — who also was charged — to Waterloo to meet someone who authorities believe was a new meth supplier. During a search of Behrends’s vehicle Thursday, officers found 33 bags of meth and a loaded handgun. A search of his home turned up $10,000 in cash and five more firearms, court records state.
In 2011, he was arrested on an assault charge with what one FBI agent said were activities related to the Matador motorcycle gang, court records state. The charge was later dropped.
Authorities allege Hernandez was buying one-pound quantities of meth from Aldo Lopez Martinez, another person charged in the probe. He was born in Mexico, became a naturalized citizen in 2009 and currently works at a Marshalltown meat processing plant.
When officers searched Hernandez’s home, they found $21,000 in cash and a table covered in meth residue. Martinez’s home yielded $92,000 in cash
Chad Ellis Weyland, 38, of Cedar Falls, also was charged in the investigation. His detention hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, but the outcome wasn’t immediate available.