OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
MAY 5, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OPERATION FAMILY TREE
EIGHT CO-DEENDANTS SENTENCED IN
$6 MILLION METH CONSPIRACY
MOTHER, THREE DAUGHTERS AMONG
19 WHO PLEADED GUILTY
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that eight southern Missouri residents – including a Flemington, Mo., woman whose three daughters are also co-defendants – have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in a multi-million dollar conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. These convictions resulted from Operation Family Tree, a multi-agency investigation into shipments of large quantities of methamphetamine from Arizona for distribution in Greene County, Mo.
Lori G. Weese, 49, of Flemington, her daughter, Sarah A. Weese, 25, of Nixa, Mo., Richard A. Lester, 31, of Republic, Mo., Aaron M. Garger, 45, of Buffalo, Mo., Eileen M. Garger, 37, of Springfield, Mo., and Michael A. Trujillo, 30, of Flemington, Mo., were sentenced in separate appearances today before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith. Toreiko S. Miller, 36, of Springfield, and Fernando Nunez, also known as “Playboy,” 25, of Glendale, Ariz., were sentenced on Monday, May 3, 2010.
Lori Weese was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Sarah Weese was sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison without parole. Nunez was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Miller was sentenced to 13 years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Lester was sentenced to seven years in federal prison without parole. Aaron Garger was sentenced to five years of probation, with six months of community confinement and six months of home detention. Eileen Garger was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison without parole. Trujillo was sentenced to five years of probation, with nine months of home detention.
These eight defendants are among 19 co-defendants who have pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County from December 2004 to November 2006.
In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Lori Weese, who is also the mother of co-defendants Stephanie K. Weese, 27, of Springfield, and Krystal G. Weese, 22, address unknown, pleaded guilty to her role in a money-laundering conspiracy involving drug-trafficking proceeds. Lori Weese admitted that she received shipments of methamphetamine from co-conspirators in Arizona, which she distributed to others in southwest Missouri – including her three daughters who are co-defendants. During the conspiracy, Lori Weese received multi-pound shipments of methamphetamine on a weekly basis, for which she paid up to $20,000 per pound.
Lori Weese paid approximately $6 million to her suppliers for the shipments of methamphetamine. Lori Weese paid for the methamphetamine by hiding the cash inside the door of a vehicle that was driven back to the suppliers in Arizona. Drug proceeds were also deposited into bank accounts by co-conspirators. Lori Weese also conducted wire transfers of the drug-trafficking proceeds to Arizona or Mexico.
Four co-defendants were sentenced on Feb. 24, 2010. Jason W. Condra, 25, Jorge C. Ramirez, 26, and Joshua L. Kelley, 31, all of Springfield, and Rebecca P. Tudor, 52, of Phoenix, Ariz., were sentenced. Condra was sentenced to eight years and nine months in federal prison without parole. Ramirez was sentenced to six years and six months in federal prison without parole. Kelley was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole. Tudor was sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole, which will be served consecutive to her current state prison sentence in Nebraska. Condra and Ramirez also pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms in furtherance of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
Four co-defendants were sentenced on Feb. 23, 2010. Charles M. Doyle, 48, who is serving a federal prison sentence in an unrelated case, was sentenced to seven years and seven months in federal prison without parole. Stephanie Weese, was sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison without parole. Her sister, Krystal Weese and Angela M. Gentry, 41, of Springfield, were each sentenced to five years of probation.
Juan Avila, also known as “Whopper,” 31, of Litchfield, Ariz., was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Edward Ortiz, also known as “Juante,” 22, of Youngstown, Ariz., was sentenced to 12 years and six months in federal prison without parole.
Co-defendant Rogelio Saldana, also known as “Rocky,” 25, of El Centro, Calif., pleaded guilty on April 8, 2010, to his role in the methamphetamine conspiracy and awaits sentencing.
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