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Authorities arrest man suspected in marijuana conspiracy

Due in court June 24

COLUMBIA, Mo. - One of the people suspected in a marijuana conspiracy in Columbia is now in custody.

According to court documents, Michael Ricketts was arrested Wednesday in his home state of Washington. The arrest took place in Union, which is west of Seattle.

An indictment unsealed Monday added Ricketts, Craig D. Smith Jr. and Eapen Thampy to the case that started in early 2018. The three are accused of working with at least four others to sell marijuana in Columbia. Smith faces the most charges of those indicted six, including four counts of conspiring to sell marijuana and three counts of using a cellphone as part of the deals.

Smith was charged in April for allegedly trying to supply a Drug Enforcement Administration source with more than 1,800 pounds of marijuana bound for mid-Missouri. A DEA affidavit said that the investigation into Smith began after the December 2017 killing of Augustus Roberts on Lasso Circle, and that the confidential source said they worked as an intermediary between Smith and Roberts.

On Wednesday, a judge granted Thampy, a Missouri lobbyist, pretrial release after a hearing in the Jefferson City federal courthouse. Magistrate Judge Willie Epps approved the release after prosecutors withdrew a request to keep Thampy detained until trial. It's unclear what led law enforcement officials to suspect Thampy was a part of the possible conspiracy.

Ricketts is scheduled to appear in federal court in Jefferson City on June 24.

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