OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATT J. WHITWORTH
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
JUNE 9, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OPERATION FAMILY TREE
ARIZONA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO METH CONSPIRACY
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Youngstown, Ariz., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Today’s guilty plea is a result of Operation Family Tree, a multi-agency investigation into shipments of large quantities of methamphetamine from Arizona for distribution in the Springfield, Mo., area.
Edward Ortiz, also known as “Juante,” 22, of Youngstown, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to the charge contained in a Nov. 19, 2008, federal indictment.
Ortiz, the first defendant to plead guilty among 20 co-defendants indicted as a result of Operation Family Tree, admitted that he assisted in the delivery of multi-pound shipments of methamphetamine from Arizona to Springfield, Bolivar, Mo., and Nixa, Mo., during the course of the conspiracy from December 2004 to Nov. 29, 2006. Methamphetamine was transported by vehicle from Arizona by couriers. Ortiz would meet the courier in Springfield to retrieve the methamphetamine from the vehicle and would, on occasion, assist the courier in transporting money back to Arizona by placing it inside the vehicle. Once the methamphetamine was retrieved from the vehicle, it was delivered to others for distribution in the Springfield area.
On Nov. 29, 2006, DEA agents seized 467.7 grams of methamphetamine from a residence in Nixa, where Ortiz and others were storing methamphetamine prior to distribution. The amount of methamphetamine attributable to Ortiz, including relevant conduct, is more than 15 kilograms.
Under federal statutes, Ortiz is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $4 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Rush. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Polk County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, COMET (the Combined Ozarks Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team), the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
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