News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2006

OPERATION ICE STORM
Joplin Man Pleads Guilty In
Multi-Kilo Meth Conspiracy

SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI: Preston L. Grubbs, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Division Office, and Todd P. Graves, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Missouri man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute between five and 15 kilograms of methamphetamine in Jasper County, Missouri, and to illegally possessing a firearm. Today’s conviction, Graves said, is the result of Operation Ice Storm, a long-term investigation into the illegal distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri.

Jeffrey S. Bateman, 36, of Joplin, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to participating in a conspiracy to distribute at least five kilograms, but less than 15 kilograms, of methamphetamine from August 2002 to September 20, 2004, in Jasper County. Bateman also pleaded guilty to being in possession of a .22-caliber Titan handgun on February 6, 2003, for the purpose of furthering and facilitating his drug distribution activities. Under federal law, Graves explained, it is illegal to possess a firearm during or in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

When law enforcement officers arrested Bateman following a traffic stop on February 6, 2003, he had a large knife concealed under his duster-style coat as well as an empty black holster, approximately 36.01 grams of methamphetamine concealed in his underclothing, and $1,315 in his wallet. Law enforcement officers found the handgun inside the vehicle, under the center armrest.

Under federal statutes, Bateman could be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $4 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Bateman is the seventh defendant to plead guilty to charges contained in an October 14, 2004, federal indictment.

Ronald D. Preston, 34, of Joplin, was sentenced on November 10, 2005, to 15 years and eight months in federal prison without parole. On April 13, 2005, Preston pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Five more co-defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Roy Rodriguez, 21, address unknown, pleaded guilty on January 31, 2006, to participating in the methamphetamine conspiracy and to being in possession of a Titan .25-caliber handgun and five rounds of ammunition on January 14, 2004, in connection with the drug trafficking offense. Rodriguez also admitted that he assaulted a federal grand jury witness, for which he has been charged in a separate case. Rodriguez assaulted the witness, stole his car, and stole property from his car, Graves said, in retaliation for that witness testimony about the drug trafficking conspiracy. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Rodriguez agrees to pay restitution to that victim and agrees that, at the time of sentencing, he should be subject to a sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice. In exchange, the government will dismiss the federal indictment in that separate case. Rodriguez also agreed that he should be subject to a sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice because he led law enforcement officers on a high-speed pursuit on May 19, 2005, as he fled to avoid arrest. Rodriguez also attempted to flee from officers attempting to arrest him on June 17, 2005, when he struck an officer’s patrol car with his vehicle, thereby causing damage to the patrol car.

Marcus Glover, 26, of Joplin, pleaded guilty to participating in the methamphetamine conspiracy on January 26, 2006.

Victor M. Gomez-Coronado, 34, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty to participating in the methamphetamine conspiracy on January 11, 2006. The government contends that Gomez-Coronado was a leader of the drug trafficking organization, and that he possessed a firearm in connection to the drug trafficking offense.

Jacquelyn M. Witt, 21, of Carthage, Missouri, pleaded guilty on April 18, 2005, to her role in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Amy C. Lawrence, 22, of Joplin, pleaded guilty on July 8, 2005, to her role in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee. The case was investigated by the Jasper County Drug Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Joplin, Missouri, Police Department, the Carthage, Missouri, Police Department, the Jasper County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Department, the Jasper County, Missouri, Metropolitan Police Department, the Carterville, Missouri, Police Department, the Newton County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Central Oklahoma Metro Interdiction Team and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Requests for additional information should be directed to Group Supervisor Alan Wilson or Public Information Officer Special Agent Shirley Armstead at 314-538-4600.

 

 

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