Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Informant survived once, not twice

Citizen Staff Writer



The last few months of Jasmine Holland’s life were filled with fear as she informed on members of a large methamphetamine ring.

Herself a meth addict, Holland survived one attempt on her life in April 2001 when another meth addict, Christina George, then 29, shot her in the neck in a drug dispute.

Holland was not so lucky three months later.

Authorities say the 25-year-old was killed early that July to keep her from testifying against members of a violent meth ring that George’s 52-year-old father, Christopher Snow, and Michael Wadle, 51, are accused of leading.

Snow, Wadle and a dozen others allegedly involved in the ring are charged under state laws related to racketeering, or illegally conducting a criminal enterprise, a new approach by prosecutors to quash what authorities say is an epidemic in metro Tucson.

Some in law enforcement say the emergence of the Snow-Wadle ring marked the beginning of a violent era in metro Tucson as the highly addictive drug gained a foothold here. Addicts and dealers were desperate to feed their habit and committed a broad range of crimes, including mail fraud, identity theft, forgery, homicide and other violent crimes.

Tucson police say if you have been a victim of identity theft or property crime this decade, it likely is linked to meth use.

Violence at ring’s core

Shooting Holland was not George’s first exposure to violence. A former boyfriend is on death row for the 1995 kidnapping and killing of Michael Jeffrey Ellis, 26, over a meth debt. Another boyfriend, Brian Stacey Birenbaum, 30, killed himself in front of George, a friend and a sheriff’s deputy in June 2000, after a routine traffic stop. Deputies at the time said he was under investigation for a “serious crime” that would have sent him back to prison.

George, now 33, who claimed she accidentally shot Holland, is in prison until 2025 for that assault and other charges related to her involvement with her father’s alleged ring.

On July 17, 2001, Pascua Yaqui police found Holland’s shot and burned body in the desert on the far Southwest Side, before Holland could testify against George and another man in her April shooting. Authorities then dropped attempted murder charges against the man.

A Pima County Superior Court indictment against Snow and Wadle alleges they held together a loosely knit group of meth dealers and users from October 2000 to July 2004.

Violence was at the core of the Snow-Wadle ring, according to law enforcement documents. The two used it to enforce loyalty and silence in the group.

During the four years that local and federal agents investigated the group, court papers say its members committed kidnappings and drive-by shootings and led investigators on car chases that injured bystanders. They also allegedly committed forgery, fraud, burglary and theft, contributing to Tucson leading the nation in property crimes the last three years.

Police say meth users are more violent than other criminal drug users because of paranoia and psychosis associated with the drug.

Authorities would not comment on the ring because of pending trials. Snow, Wadle and 12 other men and women named in this article declined, through their attorneys, to comment on the case.

A Tucson Citizen review of police and court records, obtained through public records requests and an examination of federal court records, reveals that as many as 80 people may have been drawn into the ring’s sphere by their meth addiction.

Police considered many in the ring to be white supremacists. Some, such as Dawn Johnson, 38, who is charged with kidnapping in the case, and Christina George, have tattoos indicating white supremacist affiliations, according to court records.

More than 40 local, state and federal law enforcement agents are witnesses in the case.

An examination of the ring allegedly led by Snow and Wadle shows the reach meth rings in general can have into the rest of the community.

According to court records, Snow and Wadle were friends who got their meth from a group in Phoenix known only as “The Mexicans.” Authorities would not elaborate on the Phoenix group’s makeup or operation.

The drug trade would shift between the two friends as they got their drug shipments or as they were arrested, released and rearrested on various charges before the final racketeering counts, according to police reports.

Whenever someone owed the group money or stole from it, or was suspected of talking to law enforcement, Snow and Wadle would send out a team of people to confront them, according to records.

Such “enforcers,” as they are called in police reports, kidnapped a 24-year-old woman for her debt in mid-2001 and took her to Snow’s far Northwest Side home, where the woman was beaten, tortured and shocked with a cattle prod, according to court records. She told investigators both her cheekbones were broken and her waist-length blond hair shaved.

The woman said that during the ordeal, members of the ring forced her to start running drugs for the organization. However, she would not tell authorities who assaulted her and declined to press charges. The Citizen is not naming her because she is a crime victim and witness in the case and is not charged.

Any crime for meth

Commonly called “tweekers,” meth addicts associated with the ring fed their habit by stealing from neighbors, preying on random victims and each other, trading sex; stealing cars, writing bogus checks, making fake IDs and stealing credit cards from mailboxes, police say.

If you’ve had your mail stolen, authorities here say the thief likely was a meth addict.

Police and court records claim the midtown home of Nancy McClusky, 35, was a gathering spot for meth addicts during the four years authorities say the ring operated.

Her trial on charges in the case began earlier this month.

Though records are not clear about McClusky’s alleged role in the ring, she is charged with multiple counts, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a dangerous drug (methamphetamine).

Investigators found stolen cars at her home and eventually arrested several people seen there for allegedly stealing from neighborhood residents, court records say.

Police say typical signs of a meth house in your neighborhood include lots of vehicles and people briefly stopping at the home and rashes of break-ins and petty thefts.

One friend of McClusky’s, Kevin David Laird, 36, pleaded guilty in January in the case in exchange for testimony against her, Snow, Wadle and the others.

Laird had different roles in the ring – sometimes a driver, sometimes an enforcer, records indicate.

In a spurt of less than two weeks in January 2002, Laird stole six vehicles, including a U-Haul trailer, two Sea Doo Wave Runners, and burglarized a home and a business, police and court records allege.

Authorities say you could be a victim of such crime sprees, which are common among meth users, whose addiction can keep them awake for days, committing crimes of opportunities to get more meth and sustain their high.

Authorities close in

By 2004, the days of the group were numbered.

Arrested on various local and federal charges several times during the course of the investigation, Snow and most of the others were rounded up on charges related to alleged operations from November 2004 to February.

When arrested, some, including Wadle – who is serving a federal sentence on weapons violations, already were in custody or serving sentences on other charges.

By indicting them under racketeering laws, prosecutors expect stiffer penalties on guilty verdicts than the typical sentences convicted low-level meth users would face, such as a single forgery count. Ultimately, authorities hope this approach to meth sellers and users will help cut the meth trade here.

Prosecutors have dropped charges against two of those arrested in the Snow-Wadle case and many others have pleaded guilty in the case. They include Clavel Holland, 27, the younger sister of slain informant Jasmine Holland. Clavel Holland pleaded guilty to one count of operating a criminal enterprise and has yet to be sentenced.

Just what role, if any, Jasmine Holland played in the ring’s downfall remains unclear from court records.

Two men are in prison on charges related to her killing: Theodore Charles Johnson, 29, and her ex-boyfriend, Robert Baynes Davis, 30.

In the second week of Johnson’s March 2004 trial, he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

He was arrested for Holland’s murder in October of 2001 while in jail on weapons charges. According to court records, he had been injecting 14 grams of meth a day. A typical dose of meth is a quarter of a gram, though addicts quickly up the amount and frequency they take the drug.

Davis is serving five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to kidnap Holland. He is expected to be released in 2008.

According to court records, in early July, Johnson and Davis picked up Holland from where she was living, hoping to talk her out of testifying against members of the ring.

It’s not clear if they were working at Snow’s or Wadle’s direction or on their own.

Johnson shot Holland in the back of the head when Davis pulled the car over to smoke meth, according to court records. Johnson wanted Davis to shoot Holland as well, but Davis refused.

For reasons not explained in court records, the two drove around Tucson with Holland’s body in the front passenger seat, a hat perched atop her head covering the gaping wound, then drove to the desert and dumped the car, setting it and Holland’s body on fire. Pascua Yaqui officers discovered the body two weeks later.

Johnson denies killing Holland, but told court officials he deserved to die for his role in her death.

“Even though I didn’t pull the trigger, I’m just as guilty as whoever did,” he said. “What really happened to Jasmine Holland, no one will ever know the truth.”

The Associated Press

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

Search site | Terms of service