BISBEE — A Benson woman became one of the first members of a methamphetamine trafficking ring to be convicted on Friday for her role in the organization, which was busted just over a year ago.
But three of the five counts lodged against Shalmarie Tulk resulted in a mistrial after the 12-member jury told Superior Court Judge James Conlogue that they could not reach a consensus. Assistant Attorney General Matt Eklund — who is prosecuting the cases — said he has a week to decide whether to retry Tulk on those three counts.
Meanwhile, Timothy Francis Henry, 51, of Sierra Vista, the accused ringleader of the drug enterprise, pleaded guilty on Thursday to transport of a narcotic for sale and misconduct involving weapons. Both are prison only counts, Eklund said. Henry’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24 before Conlogue.
The 46-year-old Tulk was convicted of illegally conducting an enterprise and conspiracy. She faces between two and 8.75 years in prison for the first charge and between three and 12.5 years for the second, Eklund said.
But because Tulk has no other criminal record, Eklund said the judge could forgo a prison sentence and give her probation. Tulk’s sentencing is set for Feb. 10 before Conlogue.
At the start of Tulk’s trial on Tuesday afternoon, her name appeared on a chart presented by prosecutors portraying Henry as the leader of “The Enterprise” along with nine mid-level members, among them Tulk. Investigators said another 10 people operated a similar drug-trafficking ring — mainly dealing with methamphetamine — in Pima County.
The drug group was broken up on Jan. 9, 2019 after a year-long investigation that culminated in a wiretap of Henry’s phone, prosecutors said during Tulk’s trial. Henry had been out on $150,000 bond awaiting trial.
Last year, a spokeswoman with the Attorney General’s Office said that the indictments on the 20 defendants from both counties totaled 169 felony counts.
The investigation against Henry in Cochise County was launched in 2018 after an undercover investigator with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office purchased methamphetamine from Henry, investigators said Tuesday. That’s when agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration became involved.
The DEA began surveilling Henry, and he was arrested in January 2019 after his Sierra Vista residence was searched and drugs were found.
Aside from Tulk, eight other defendants were described by investigators as mid-level players in Henry’s Cochise County narcotics operation.
Tulk was supposed to be tried with the others in a joint trial, but her attorney filed a motion to have her tried separately. Additionally, the state offered Tulk a plea agreement last fall, but she rejected it, court records show.
The charges in the indictments for both the Pima and Cochise defendants include RICO violations for money laundering and illegally conducting an enterprise involving the transportation, sale, and possession of drugs such as meth, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, Oxycodone, and marijuana.
Other counts in the indictment claim weapons misconduct, tampering with physical evidence, conspiracy, and using wire communications in drug-related transactions.