Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

DEA: Tri-Cities man supplied CdA cocaine

A Coeur d'Alene man accused of leading a cocaine distribution ring for at least 10 years is believed to have obtained the drugs from a Kennewick man.

New documents filed in U.S. District Court allege Manuel Rivera supplied James Roy "Slim" O'Neill (left) with cocaine that O'Neill then sold out of Coeur d'Alene.

Both men remain in federal custody - Rivera in Bonner County and O'Neill in Kootenai County - after their lawyers waived bail hearings on Monday.

A third suspect, Chillers bar owner Chris McFarland, was released on several conditions, including that he not work at Chillers. McFarland was convicted in 1994 of possessing several ounces of cocaine in Utah.

The new documents show a confidential informant arrested in connection with the case had a GPS unit on his car as early as November 2009. Investigators said the GPS device showed he traveled to Pasco to meet with Rivera shortly before he was stopped with nearly 70 grams of cocaine in Idaho. That informant told investigators Rivera was O'Neill's cocaine supplier and had recently provided black tar heroin to O'Neill.

Investigators put a GPS tracker on O'Neill's Ford scape and pulled his phone records. Idaho State Police detectives even sent O'Neill's trash to a forensic lab for resting - traces of cocaine often was detected.

The informant bought cocaine from Rivera on several occasions, according to court documents. Meanwhile, detectives were watching O'Neill and McFarland and observing what they believed were drug deals at Chillers.

O'Neill was arrested May 25 with his wife, Lecia O'Neill, after a raid at their home at 2202 N. 9th. Also arrested were Rivera, McFarland, Gary Votava, Steve McCabe and Debra Margraff.

Three other Coeur d'Alene residents face state charges in connection with the case: James Lunceford, Kelli Lunceford and Michael G. Wachholz, 36.

Wachholz's charge relates to cocaine found at his home during a search by probation officers in March, according to documents filed in Kootenai County District Court. The Luncefords were arrested May 25 after a search at their home at 2200 Monte Vista Drive. Investigators found less than a gram of cocaine. All three are out of jail on bond.

Past coverage:

May 26: DEA raid shuts down alleged CdA coke ring

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.