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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


SEPTEMBER 5, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


OPERATION BUCKSHOT


GRAND JURY INDICTS 17 DEFENDANTS

FOR MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR METH CONSPIRACY,

ILLEGAL FIREARMS


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that 17 defendants – primarily from Barton and Vernon counties in Missouri and the state of California – have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine. Several defendants are also charged with illegally possessing dozens of firearms.


             The federal indictment results from Operation Buckshot, a multi-agency investigation into a large-scale methamphetamine conspiracy operating in southwest Missouri. That successful investigation resulted in the seizure of more than 38 pounds of methamphetamine, in excess of $100,000, four vehicles and 89 firearms, along with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and blasting caps. Numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in both Missouri and Kansas participated in Operation Buckshot.


             Jose Lopez, also known as David Cerpa, 38, a citizen of Mexico, and Juan Lara, 59, both of Ontario, Calif., Randy S. Lucero, 32, and David C. Paniagua, 38, both of Highland, Calif., Michael L. Wilson, 31, Harold Heath Foster, 33, Ronald E. Willis, 61, Daniel Jeffrey McCann, 45, Timothy D. Kennon, 46, and Roderick P. Conway, 36, all of Lamar, Mo., Joseph M. Kutina, 31, of Milo, Mo., Ronald L. Hampton, 36, of Liberal, Mo., Dustin L. Vittetoe, 33, of Horton, Mo., Michael C. Turner, 45, of Pittsburgh, Kan., Michael Robert Conway, 66, of Freistaff, Mo., Brandon R. Stone, 25, of Nevada, Mo., and Moises Medina, 48, of Pueblo, Colo., were charged in a 13-count federal indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Friday. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrest and initial court appearance of several defendants.


             The federal indictment alleges that all 17 defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of pure methamphetamine from December 2005 to Aug. 31, 2007.


             In addition to the conspiracy charge, Hampton is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine and with one count of possession of a firearm – a Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol – in furtherance of those drug-trafficking crimes. Hampton is also charged with being an unlawful user of methamphetamine while in possession of 24 firearms, including 17 rifles, five shotguns and two pistols.


             McCann is also charged with one count of distributing methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of methamphetamine, and one count of being an unlawful user of methamphetamine while in possession of two firearms – a Remington .22-caliber rifle and a Compania Brasieria De Cartuchos 12-gauge shotgun. The federal indictment also charges McCann with possessing an illegal firearm, alleging that the Remington rifle has a barrel length of less than 16 inches.


             Wilson is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.


             Stone is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of being an unlawful user of methamphetamine while in possession of a Savage Arms .22-caliber rifle.


             Kutina is also charged with one count of being an unlawful user of methamphetamine while in possession of 49 firearms, including 11 pistols, four revolvers, 26 rifles, seven shotguns and explosive blasting caps.


             Willis is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.


             Kennon is charged with possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of methamphetamine.


Forfeiture Allegations


             Several forfeiture allegations are contained in the federal indictment, which would require various defendants to forfeit to the government any property used to commit the alleged offenses, or that was obtained from the proceeds of the alleged offenses.


             Lucero would be required to forfeit to the government $44,040 that was seized by law enforcement officers and $2,175,000, which represents the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the methamphetamine conspiracy.


             Wilson would be required to forfeit to the government a total of $42,380 that was seized by law enforcement officers on four separate occasions, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and a 2000 Ford Mustang, which were seized by law enforcement officers, and his residence in Lamar.


             Hampton would be required to forfeit to the government $6,792 that was seized by law enforcement officers, as well as 24 illegal firearms.


             McCann would be required to forfeit to the government two illegal firearms.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Rush. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the sheriff’s departments of Vernon, Barton, and Jasper Counties, CNET (the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the police departments of Lamar, Mo., and Nevada, Mo.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html