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Feds, local authorities round up nearly two dozen suspects in crime ring

Nearly two dozen people involved in various crimes throughout Columbia and Boone County were rounded up Thursday.

Federal, state, county, and Columbia city law enforcement were involved in the round-up. Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey estimated 50-60 officers with different agencies were involved in the operation.

U.S. Western District Attorney Tammy Dickinson charged 27 people in Boone County for cocaine distribution, prostitution, and illegal firearms. 15 of those were Columbia residents.

ABC 17 News confirmed six of the people charged had five or more kilograms of a substance that contained a detectable amount of cocaine.

22 of 27 people are in custody, while 5 are still being sought by authorities. 17 were arrested Thursday, and 5 others were already in custody on other charges.

One of the people charged for trafficking cocaine, Ryan Kee, was given information about at least one drug search warrant through a former employee of the Boone County Circuit Clerk’s office. That employee, Christin Sledd, had access to sensitive information in her job, and was captured as part of the investigation. Sledd worked for the county from April to September 2014.

Sledd is charged with using a communications facility to facilitate a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Court documents on Kee state “if the leak had not been detected law enforcement officers and/or others could have been injured or killed executing the search warrant.”

Kee is one of the five suspects still on the run.

The investigation started about 18 months ago. Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said gang activity wasn’t a prompt for the investigation, but did say some of those charged could have had gang ties.

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