News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2006

Operation Ice Storm
Joplin Man Sentenced in Multi-Kilo Meth Conspiracy

Springfield, Missouri: Preston Grubbs, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Field Office; and Bradley J. Schlozman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute 15 kilograms or more of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri.

Operation Ice Storm was a long-term investigation into the illegal distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri. Methamphetamine and Ice, a highly potent form of methamphetamine were transported into Missouri from Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Texas by female couriers who were paid to fly between the states with the drugs strapped under their clothes.

Jeffrey S. Bateman, 37, of Joplin, was sentenced by United States District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning to nine years and six months in federal prison without parole.

On February 3, 2006, Bateman pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Jasper County, Missouri, from August 2002 to September 20, 2004. 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, Schlozman 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 $1,315.00 in his wallet. Law enforcement officers found the handgun inside the vehicle, under the center armrest.

Bateman is among 10 co-defendants who have been convicted on charges contained in an October 14, 2004, federal indictment.

* Emmanuel Rodriguez, 28, of Joplin, Missouri was convicted by a federal jury of being one of the leaders of the methamphetamine conspiracy, which has ties to the Mexican Mafia. As a result of his conviction, Rodriguez will forfeit to the government any property used facilitate the conspiracy or that was derived from the proceeds of the conspiracy, including $3,002.00 seized at the time of his arrest, $5,352.00 seized from his residence and a 2000 Lincoln Navigator.

* Ricki J. Gomez, 38, of Carthage, Missouri was sentenced on March 29, 2006, to four years and nine months in federal prison without parole. On September 1, 2005, Gomez pleaded guilty to being in possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Gomez was stopped by Webb City, Missouri, police officers on June 6, 2004. During the traffic stop, officers seized 54.85 grams of methamphetamine, which was 75 percent pure, and $9,559.00. Gomez admitted that she intended to distribute some or all of the methamphetamine to another person. Gomez also admitted that the money in her possession was obtained from the proceeds of methamphetamine sales. Gomez also admitted that she was in possession of 10.57 grams of methamphetamine at her residence on September 20, 2004.

* Roberto Rodriguez, 31, formerly of Jasper County, pleaded guilty on February 15, 2006, 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 and elsewhere in southwest Missouri.

* 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.

* 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, Schlozman said, in retaliation for that witness’ testimony about the drug trafficking conspiracy. Under the terms of the 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, Missouri pleaded guilty to participating in the methamphetamine conspiracy on January 26, 2006.

* Victor M. Gomez-Coronado, 34, a citizen of Mexico, Missouri pleaded guilty to participating in the methamphetamine conspiracy on Jan. 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, Missouri pleaded guilty on July 8, 2005, to her role in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robyn L. McKee and Dave Rush. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jasper County Drug Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 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.