The methamphetamine market abhors a vacuum.

Federal court documents say Casper resident Courtney Collingwood assumed the mantle of a major local meth dealer after Michael Perez, nicknamed “Money Mike," and other defendants in the conspiracy were arrested last year sentenced in state or federal court earlier this year.

As their cases wound their way through the justice system, Collingwood -- with the help of a supplier nicknamed "Chicken" -- stepped up her game, according to the criminal complaint by a Casper police officer and filed in U.S. District Court in July.

Starting in December, confidential sources told state and federal agents that they would accompany Collingwood to Colorado to buy methamphetamine  for distribution in Casper and Gillette.

In late December, a known co-conspirator was arrested after a traffic stop during which yielded methamphetamine and a cell phone. A search of the cellphone revealed text messages between the co-conspirator and Collingwood who was delivering methamphetamine.

In January, authorities interviewed another confidential source who sold methamphetamine for Collingwood in Casper.

That source said  they believed Collingwood scored meth from a source in Fort Collins -- Tyson Mittelstaedt-- also known as "Chicken Nugget"  or "Chicken." Get it; "Tyson Chicken"?

Authorities arrested Mittelsteadt in Fort Collins in April, and he told officers that he was selling methamphetamine he obtained in Denver.

Also in January, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers arrested Brandon Betts and and Laura Barber and charged them with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and felony possession of methamphetamine.

Betts was called a "snitch" during a recorded call with Collingwood, according to the complaint.

In June, Collingwood was advised of her Miranda rights and she said she had been obtaining multiple-ounce quantities of meth from Mittelsteadt.

During one purchase of methamphetamine by Betts from Mittelsteadt, Betts said that he was having problems with someone in Casper.

Collingwood then told Mittelsteadt to give Betts a stolen Taurus revolver, according to the complaint.

In July, the federal grand jury handed up indictments for Collingwood, Betts and Mittelsteadt.

All have pleaded not guilty.

If convicted, each defendant faces 10 years to life imprisonment for the count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Mittelsteadt also faces a charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, punishable by an automatic fire-year prison term.

Betts was indicted on those two counts, plus possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, which is punishable by five years to life imprisonment.

The defendants are in custody.

Their trials have been set for October in Casper before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl.

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