LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An Eastern Kentucky man busted for selling large amounts of meth helped unravel a drug ring in Louisville tied to the largest drug cartel in the world.
Now, the man just might appear in court as a witness to the Louisville operations.
Back in 2014, in Monticello, Kentucky, court documents say 72-year-old James Ronald Muse had quickly become an upper level meth dealer, sometimes moving pounds at a time through Wayne and Pulaski Counties.
The DEA started an investigation, setting up undercover buys, wire taps, and gathering informants. Some of those informants identified Muse as “Big R” and said his meth sources were Mexican. In 2015, agents moved in to set up a sting operation and finally arrest Muse.
They were also able to catch up with his associates.
Investigators said Muse sometimes bought drugs from Clinton Emery Stowers, a 51-year-old drug trafficker from Atlanta.
During the sting, agents said Muse went to pick up meth from 61-year-old Paul Ronald Dunagan’s barn. Dunagan, otherwise known as “Curley,” buried the meth under dried corn in his barn.
Once arrested, Muse admitted to moving the meth for the past two years to investigators, but he claimed it wasn’t how it appeared.
His son, James Lewis Muse, had racked up a $30,000 to $40,000 debt with the wrong guy, Ismael Gonzalez.
In his interview with federal agents, Muse said he was selling the meth for Gonzalez, who Muse claimed threatened to kill his son if the debt wasn’t repaid.
Investigators said Gonzalez was supplied by the infamous and violent Sinaloa Cartel, formally led by Jaquín Guzmán, better known as “El Chapo.”
The case says DEA agents were able to wiretap Gonzalez and his associates in 2016, tracing the movement of meth, heroin, cocaine and money from Mexico to Louisville and beyond. Agents say a man named Dante Watts would distribute the meth throughout Louisville.
They were able to track a huge shipment coming up from the border and they followed Gonzalez and his associates to a body shop. Investigators said that is where the group packed the drugs into frames of cars and semis. That shop, on Strawberry Lane, was where agents were able to shut things down, eventually finding multiple stash houses all over Jefferson County.
Both the Muses and their associates have pleaded guilty to meth trafficking charges. They’re all currently in federal prison.
Gonzalez and his partners have all pleaded not guilty and still await trial, a trial where James Ronald Muse may just possibly pop up as a witness.