East St. Louis bar owner convicted for dealing methamphetamine

By Bill Dwyer for Chronicle Media

Aaron Wallace of East St. Louis was convicted of dealing 4 ounces of crystal meth to a Drug Enforcement Administration confidential source.

Aaron Wallace managed to win some battles with federal law enforcement, but in the end he still lost the war.

Wallace, 42, of East St. Louis, successfully fought twice to suppress evidence against him, including a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. But in the end, following a three-day jury trial, he was convicted of dealing 4 ounces of crystal meth to a Drug Enforcement Administration confidential source.

His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 6 at the U.S. District courthouse in East St. Louis.

According to court documents and evidence presented during his trial, DEA agents opened an investigation into Wallace in September 2020, after learning he was dealing large quantities of crystal meth in St. Clair County.

Wallace was first indicted for intentional distribution of methamphetamine in November of 2021. Prosecutors say that during the DEA’s investigation Wallace sold crystal meth to at least one confidential source.

According to appellate court records, on May 3, 2022, DEA agents, Illinois State Police and U.S. Marshalls from the Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force executed a midday forced entry of an East St. Louis bar that Wallace owned after his car was seen parked outside. Wallace had been sought on an arrest warrant issued after a confidential source reportedly purchased 4 ounces of crystal meth from Wallace in St. Clair County.

Wallace was arraigned the next day, pleaded not guilty and was released on bond.

A superseding indictment filed in April 2023 after his arrest charged him additionally with possession of a firearm by a felon.

However, the arresting officers had not had a search warrant for the bar premises when they arrested Wallace. His attorney successfully petitioned the court to suppress statements he made during his arrest and the possession of an AR-15 style rifle at the time. The court ruled that police conducted a “safety search” of the premises without a warrant and had no compelling circumstances to do so and could have waited to obtain the warrant.

A few months later Wallace’s defense challenged an August 2020 recording of Wallace made at his ranch house in East St. Louis, in which he allegedly told an undercover agent that he would deliver a quantity of methamphetamine. The court ruled the tape inadmissible due to the DEA inadvertently misfiling the evidence and not turning it over to the defense until October 2023, one week before the trial.

But prosecutors still had the methamphetamine Wallace had sold the undercover source on Sept. 28, 2020, and two videos of the drug buy, along with other evidence.

U.S. Attorney for Southern Illinois Rachelle Aud Crowe expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the case, which was worked by agents from the DEA, with support from the U.S. Marshals Service and Illinois State Police.

“DEA works aggressively to remove meth dealers from southern Illinois,” she said. “Thanks to their diligent efforts, we’re working to eradicate drug trafficking from our communities.”