News and Press Releases

operation rhino trap

jury convicts webb city man of meth conspiracy;
smuggled meth ingredients from Thailand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Webb City, Mo., man was convicted in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Today’s conviction is 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.

Marcus A. Herrell, 36, of Webb City, was found guilty of all six counts contained in an April 7, 2010, federal indictment. Herrell was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine from January 2008 to April 2010. Herrell was also convicted of two counts of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a place to manufacture methamphetamine, one count of creating a substantial risk of harm to human life while attempting to manufacture methamphetamine, and one count of attempting to destroy a meth lab in order to prevent its seizure by a law enforcement officer.

Co-defendants Gary Dishong, 50, and Michael W. Wright, 52, both of Webb City, have pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy. 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.

Herrell, Dishong and Wright manufactured methamphetamine together on numerous occasions at Dishong’s residence, which he rented from Herrell. After they were arrested in 2008, they began manufacturing methamphetamine at a Joplin residence until they were arrested again on April 12, 2010.

Dishong 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.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for less than hour before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr, ending a trial that began Monday, Dec. 6, 2010.

Under federal statutes, each of three co-defendants are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole. 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 and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. 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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