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  • Writer's pictureJournal Staff Report

Drug bust in Linn, Miami counties leads to six arrests


LA CYGNE – On Wednesday morning, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies arrested six individuals in Miami and Linn counties for distribution of methamphetamine and other charges.


The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Osawatomie Police Department, and the Pleasanton Police Department worked together on the case, according to a KBI news release.


The investigation began last December when the Osawatomie Police Department developed information about area drug sales. On Wednesday, March 22, between 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., KBI agents and investigators executed search warrants and arrest warrants at a residence in rural Osawatomie and at two residences in La Cygne, according to the release.


Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend said that his office got involved in the investigation a few months ago because one of the main players of the drug ring was in La Cygne. Deputies served the two search warrants in La Cygne.


During the searches, law enforcement located methamphetamine and more than $12,000 in cash, according to the KBI. During the joint investigation, more than 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine was seized, some of which is believed to contain fentanyl. Six suspects were arrested.


Bernie E. Stuteville, 60, of La Cygne, was arrested for distribution of a controlled substance, conspiracy, and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Charles Eslick Jr., 49, of Osawatomie, was arrested for distribution of a controlled substance, conspiracy, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and distribution or possession of a controlled substance using a communication facility.

Deanne Burkhart, 55, of Osawatomie, was arrested for distribution of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Julia R. Spears, 50, of Osawatomie, was arrested for distribution of a controlled substance, conspiracy, and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Danny R. Harper, 58, of Osawatomie, was arrested for distribution of controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cindy M. Ballou, 45, of Osawatomie, was arrested during the search warrant for having outstanding warrants for driving while suspended with no proof of insurance.


Following their arrests, the subjects were each booked into the Miami County Jail. Formal charges are pending, and all of the subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty, according to the release.


Also assisting in this investigation were Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), the La Cygne Police Department, the Ottawa Police Department, and the Paola Police Department. The investigation is ongoing.


Sheriff Friend said that methamphetamine continues to be a serious problem, not only in Linn and Miami counties but across the state.

He also said that use of fentanyl as a derivative in methamphetamines has become more prevalent recently.


However, Friend also said that for now fentanyl overdoses appear to be down after two people in Linn County died from that drug in 2022.

“We’re hoping that some people took heed because of fentanyl deaths in southeastern Kansas,” Friend said.

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