Criminals plead guilty in multi-million dollar synthetic drug operation

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Lee’s Summit woman pleads guilty in federal court after being caught in a multi-million dollar synthetic drug operation.

Prosecutors say she and her co-workers rented space in Dean's Downtown Underground to run their drug business. A representative with the realty company the underground storage business says they had no idea any of their tenants were involved in illegal activities. But according to a 55 page indictment, the defendants rented out two locations there.

Prosecutors say it's just one of several warehouses or self-storage units across the country that the defendants used to store, manufacture, and distribute illegal drugs like synthetic marijuana. Another local location was an office building off US 169 Highway in Olathe.

So far, nine people have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the $16 million drug operation. The latest is a Lee's Summit woman named Cindy McRoberts. She pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs.

Prosecutors say the Olathe couple who ran the business, Tracy Picanso and Roy Ehrett, have also pleaded guilty.

One of their neighbors, Susan Oehmler, often noticed strange activity surrounding the couple and their home.

“I think we were surprised it would be right here in our neighborhood. I know it can happen anywhere but yeah, we had been surprised that it was happening here. But yeah it just shows it can happen just anywhere,” Oehmler said.

All three of those people will be sentenced in April. McRoberts could face up to 20 years in prison.