A Lexington woman is accused of being a money courier in an elaborate, multi-state network of people reportedly conspiring to transport and launder money from a drug trafficking operation out of Mexico, according to newly released court documents.
Shontail M. Hocker, 42, is facing multiple drug possession and trafficking charges in Lexington as well as a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering out of San Diego, according to court documents. Because of Hocker’s alleged ties to a larger, ongoing federal case her indictment and other court documents were sealed until Thursday, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Hocker is accused of laundering money by creating several companies, smuggling cash in bulk and creating cash deposits in banks to avoid reporting requirements, according to a federal affidavit out of Lexington.
Just after midnight on Jan. 23, investigators conducted a “trash pull” at Hocker’s house on Kavenaugh Lane in Lexington. From her trash cans sitting on the grass by the road, agents took two large trash bags and found kilo packaging wrappers, rubber bands, black gloves covered in white powder and other items, according to the affidavit.
The DEA agents investigating the contents of the trash cans were assisted by a Lexington police dog, who indicated the bags contained narcotics, according to the affidavit.
Later that morning, DEA agents who were watching Hocker’s house report that they saw her and another person get in a Nissan Altima and drive toward another neighborhood. At one point, the driver of the Altima took several U-turns before parking directly behind one of the task force officers, according to the affidavit.
The Altima sat behind the officer for about two minutes before leaving, according to the affidavit. The special agent writing the affidavit noted that multiple U-turns are used as a common tactic by drug traffickers to evade law enforcement.
On Jan. 29, agents were authorized to get “geolocation” data on a cellphone registered to H&H Contracting at Hocker’s address, according to the affidavit. The service provider was unable to get the data despite the phone being active.
The phone was being used in conjunction with several other phones as a router between the caller and call receiver to “mask location data,” according to the affidavit.
“This tactic clearly demonstrates that the presumed user of the target telephone, Shontail Hocker, is extremely technology-savvy and is on the cutting edge of evasive tactics to avoid detection from law enforcement,” the special agent wrote in the affidavit.
Hocker also repeatedly rented a Chevrolet Suburban from AVIS for 30 days at a time, according to the affidavit. During one month-long rental of the Suburban, 6,711 miles were put on it, indicating it was “consistently traveling throughout the country,” according to the affidavit.
After getting a warrant, agents put a tracking device on the Suburban. On Feb. 9, investigators followed the vehicle to Shelby County, where Hocker met up with a man named David Morris, according to court documents.
Hocker and Morris drove in separate vehicles to a Love’s truck stop in Waddy, where they met up with a woman later identified as Kim Davis, 46, of Louisville, according to the affidavit. The three then separated.
Hocker spent the night in Louisville before returning to Lexington, where police stopped her and arrested her on a count of distribution of a controlled substance, according to the affidavit. In the Suburban, investigators found multiple cellphones and a notebook believed to be a drug ledger, according to the affidavit.
Investigators believe Hocker was involved in a drug trafficking and money laundering operation with ties to people in at least ten states from New York to California, according to an indictment out of San Diego.
Morris and Davis are also facing drug distribution and possession charges, according to federal court records.
Hocker, Morris and Davis were arraigned in Lexington on Thursday, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
In addition to the DEA, the investigation involved the FBI, Kentucky State Police and the Lexington Police Department.