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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


BETH PHILLIPS


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

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


OCTOBER 5, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


OPERATION RHINO TRAP


TWO WEBB CITY MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO METH CONSPIRACY, IMPORTED METH INGREDIENTS FROM THAILAND


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two Webb City, Mo., men pleaded guilty in federal court today to their roles in a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.


            Today’s convictions are the result of Operation Rhino Trap, an investigation targeting Internet purchases of pseudoephedrine from Thailand for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine. Operation Rhino Trap has resulted in several indictments in the Western District of Missouri as well as other states.


            Gary Dishong, 50, and Michael W. Wright, 52, both of Webb City, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to the charges contained in an April 7, 2010, federal indictment.


            By pleading guilty today, both Dishong and Wright admitted that they participated in a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in Jasper County, Mo., from January 2008 to April 2010. Dishong also pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to import pseudoephedrine into the United States from Thailand with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, and to illegally possessing firearms and ammunition.


            Dishong and Wright admitted that they manufactured methamphetamine together on numerous occasions at Dishong’s residence. After being arrested in 2008, they began manufacturing methamphetamine at a Joplin residence until they were arrested again on April 12, 2010.


            Dishong also admitted that he purchased pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine, from a company in Thailand. Dishong made those purchases over the Internet, and the tablets of pseudoephedrine were shipped to his residence. The pseudoephedrine was shipped in mislabeled packages.


            When Dishong was arrested on April 12, 2010, he was in possession of six rifles, two shotguns, two pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who is an unlawful user of methamphetamine to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Dishong agreed to forfeit the firearms to the government.


            Under federal statutes, Dishong is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 70 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2.5 million. Wright is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2 million. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations 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, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Jasper County Drug Task Force, the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, and the 4th Judicial Drug Task Force in Newport, Tenn.


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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

http://www.justice.gov/usao/mow/index.html