California men arrested in local drug distribution case

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Two California men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly conspiring to use commercial airliners to transport and sell drugs in the St. Louis area, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said.

A federal grand jury indicted 40-year-old Poe Purcell, 36-year-old Chalamar Schultz Tuipelehake, and 32-year-old Francis Frost on July 8 on several felony counts, including: conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and conspiracy to enter a secured area of airport under false pretenses.

Purcell and Tuipelehake were arrested July 15 but Frost remains at-large.

According to the indictment, Tuipelehake arranged for California drug traffickers to transport narcotics from L.A. on commercial airlines. Purcell, who worked as an American Airlines Cargo Fleet Service Clerk at Los Angeles International Airport, was able to conceal the drugs and make it easier to transport them. Frost would then retrieve the suitcases containing the drugs at luggage carousels.

If convicted, the Purcell and Tuipelehake could serve between 10 years and life in prison.