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NEWS RELEASE

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

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


OCTOBER 22, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


OPERATION FAMILY TREE


NIXA WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO METH CONSPIRACY,

MONEY LAUNDERING


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nixa, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine as well as a money-laundering conspiracy. 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.


            Sarah A. Weese, 23, of Nixa, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to the charges contained in a Nov. 19, 2008, federal indictment.


            By pleading guilty today, Weese admitted that she was involved in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County, Mo., from December 2004 to Nov. 29, 2006. Weese also admitted that she participated in a conspiracy to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking.


            Weese’s suppliers used couriers to transport methamphetamine from Arizona to southwest Missouri. Weese and co-conspirators received the methamphetamine and distributed it to others in southwest Missouri. During the conspiracy, they received multi-pound shipments of methamphetamine on a weekly basis, for which they paid up to $20,000 per pound. Those payments were made by hiding the cash inside the door of a vehicle that was driven to the suppliers in Arizona. Drug proceeds were also deposited into bank accounts by co-conspirators.


            Weese is among a dozen co-defendants who have pleaded guilty among 20 co-defendants indicted as a result of Operation Family Tree. Also pleading guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy are her sisters, Stephanie K. Weese, 27, of Springfield, and Krystal G. Weese, 22, address unknown, as well as Jason W. Condra, 25, Toreiko S. Miller, 35, Joshua L. Kelley, 30, Angela M. Gentry, 41, and Jorge C. Ramirez, 26, all of Springfield, Charles M. Doyle, 48, incarcerated in federal prison, Edward Ortiz, also known as “Juante,” 22, of Youngstown, Ariz., Rebecca P. Tudor, 52, of Phoneix, Ariz., and Juan Avila, also known as “Whopper,” 31, of Litchfield, Ariz.


            Under federal statutes, Weese 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.

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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