Metro-East News

Quiet neighborhood in Troy is center of investigation into drug-dealing, shooting death

It’s a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house on the corner lot of a quiet neighborhood in Troy.

But drug agents said in court documents that the home was a drug-trafficking headquarters and possibly connected to a fatal shooting.

The investigation into the house on Cobblestone Court began in November when Troy police stopped a man driving a blue Dodge Nitro and arrested him after they found he didn’t have a license.

What they found inside the vehicle, according to a police affidavit obtained by the News-Democrat, was marijuana and methamphetamine. The driver said he was coming from a house in the 300 block of Cobblestone where Rico Hogan lived. The driver told police that Hogan was a drug dealer.

Police launched the investigation on Nov. 30 by digging through the trash left on the corner in front of the Cobblestone Court address. They found drug paraphernalia, FedEx boxes, pieces of mail addressed to Hogan, empty plastic vacuum-seal bags that smelled like marijuana and large plastic bags that tested positive for methamphetamine.

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Surveillance began. On Dec.13, police watched as a black Mustang pulled up to the house, then as a woman got out and went to the door. She stayed for an hour, then left. The Mustang was stopped after police clocked the driver doing 53 mph in a 45-mph zone.

Troy police brought its dog to the scene, and it indicated to drugs in the car, the affidavit stated. A search found 908 grams of methamphetamine, 119 grams of oxycodone and a loaded pistol.

In the course of the investigation, police developed a source who told them he would buy methamphetamine from Hogan once or twice a week in 1- or 2-pound increments. The source also told police they owed $22,800 to Hogan for meth deals. The source told police that Hogan sent money orders to California for methamphetamine purchases.

Police later learned that from November 2016 to October 2017, Hogan sent $82,800 in money orders to “The Bennett Manor” in California. Those money orders were purchased, police said, in increments of less than $3,000 to avoid reporting requirements.

On Jan. 10, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois, a regional drug task force, had the confidential informant call Hogan and arrange a meeting at the house on Cobblestone Court. The source was given $12,000 in marked bills. The source went to the house, went in with the money and came out with 7 ounces of methamphetamine.

As part of a request for a search warrant, MEGSI agents wrote in an affidavit that St. Louis Metropolitan police in March searched an apartment rented by Hogan and found marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and prescription pills, three guns, a stolen handgun and $19,845 in cash.

At that time, police said Hogan was a suspect in the shooting death of a drug user found in a Missouri alley.

During a police interview, Hogan told police that he sold drugs and he bought a gun off the street from a stranger. He also told police, according to the affidavit, that he traded drugs for guns. No charges could be found against Hogan in federal or state court in Missouri.

Police didn’t identify the shooting victim in the affidavit, but there was a man named Lendell Palmer, 36, found shot multiple times in a vacant lot in the 3000 block of Wyoming Street in St. Louis on Feb. 18 — the same day listed in the affidavit.

Two weeks ago, MEGSI agents searched the house on Cobblestone Court. They took more than 80 pieces of evidence, including guns, drugs, money, electronics, computers, retina-scanning computers, flat-screen televisions and a surveillance camera system.

Two days later, Hogan was charged with 18 felonies, including methamphetamine trafficking and possession, armed violence, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and criminal fortification of a residence.

Hogan’s bail was set at $5 million. His preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday.