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
APRIL 6, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HORTON MAN SENTENCED FOR MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Horton, Mo., man has been sentenced in federal court for participating in a conspiracy to distribute millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine in Barton County, Mo., and elsewhere.
Dustin L. Vittetoe, 34, of Horton, Mo., was sentenced on Thursday, April 2, 2009, by U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith to 10 years in federal prison without parole.
Vittetoe pleaded guilty in July 2008 to his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Barton County and elsewhere from December 2005 to Aug. 31, 2007. Vittetoe admitted that the amount of pure methamphetamine attributable to him is more than 1.5 kilograms.
Vittetoe also admitted that in June 2007 he approached an agent with the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) and attempted to bribe the officer to provide protection for the drug-trafficking organization.
Vittetoe is the first defendant to be sentenced as a result of Operation Buckshot, a multi-agency investigation into a large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracy that involved the distribution of methamphetamine from California through Kansas City, Mo., and into 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.
Two co-defendants were convicted at trial on March 26, 2009. Ronald Willis, 63, of Lamar, Mo., and Juan Lara, 61, of Ontario, Calif., were found guilty of participating in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Willis was also found guilty of possessing methamphetamine on Feb. 28, 2007, in Barton County.
Fifteen additional co-defendants have pleaded guilty to the charges contained in an Oct. 3, 2007, superseding indictment. Michael L. Wilson, 32, Harold Heath Foster, 35, Daniel Jeffrey McCann, 48, Timothy D. Kennon, 48, and Roderick P. Conway, 38, all of Lamar, Brandon R. Stone, 27, of Nevada, Mo., Joseph M. Kutina, 31, of Milo, Mo., Ronald L. Hampton, 37, of Liberal, Mo., Michael C. Turner, 46, of Pittsburgh, Kan., Michael Robert Conway, 68, of Freistaff, Mo.,Moises Medina, 50, of Pueblo, Colo., Jose Lopez, also known as David Cerpa, 40, a citizen of Mexico residing in Ontario, Calif., and Randy S. Lucero, 34, and David C. Paniagua, 39, both of Highland, Calif., have each pleaded guilty to their roles in the methamphetamine conspiracy.
Lopez admitted that he supplied methamphetamine to Lucero for distribution. Lucero then transported the methamphetamine – usually by a courier traveling via Amtrak – from California to his main distributor, Wilson, in Missouri. Lara, Lopez, Lucero and Medina were arrested in August 2007 when they traveled to Kansas City to deliver a shipment of methamphetamine to Wilson. Police officers discovered 26 individually wrapped packages containing 11.62 kilograms (approximately 25 pounds) of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment of the Chevrolet Trailblazer that was driven by Medina, in which Lopez was a passenger. In addition to the conspiracy, Medina pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of methamphetamine.
Wilson admitted that he received multi-pound deliveries of methamphetamine from his suppliers in California. Wilson then distributed the methamphetamine to his distributors in western Missouri and eastern Kansas. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Wilson’s residence on July 11, 2007, seizing approximately three kilograms of methamphetamine, $37,880 and two vehicles that were used to facilitate the conspiracy.
Michael Robert Conway admitted that he was paid by Wilson to transport shipments of methamphetamine from Kansas City to Lamar in the bed of his pick-up truck.
Hampton also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and to illegally possessing a firearm. Hampton was arrested on Feb. 28, 2007, while in possession of 177.1 grams of pure methamphetamine, which has been fronted (provided on consignment) by Wilson for $19,200, and a Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol. Law enforcement officers also seized 24 firearms from Hampton’s residence.
McCann and Stone also pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms.
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.
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