News and Press Releases

kC man sentenced to 30 years for possessing firearms
in buchanan county meth conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for illegally possessing firearms in relation to a large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracy in Buchanan County, Mo.

Gilberto Lara-Ruiz, also known as “Hill,” 31, a citizen of Mexico who was residing in Kansas City, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to 30 years in federal prison without parole.

On May 26, 2011, Lara-Ruiz was convicted at trial of possessing firearms in furtherance of drug-trafficking crimes, including a sawed-off shotgun, an AR-15 style rifle, a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, a .32-caliber semi-automatic pistol and a .22-caliber revolver. Lara-Ruiz was also found guilty of discharging a handgun in relation to a drug-trafficking crime. Evidence presented during the trial indicated that Lara-Ruiz fired shots into the car of a person who owed him money for drugs.

At the time of his trial, Lara-Ruiz was serving a 2008 federal prison sentence after pleading guilty in a separate but related case to distributing methamphetamine and to illegally entering the United States. Today’s sentence must be served consecutively to the 87-month sentence in the earlier case.

Ten co-defendants, all of whom are St. Joseph, Mo., residents, have been sentenced after pleading guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Danny Ray Hughes, 37, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison without parole. Ernest Harold Sneddon, also known as “Mouse,” 42, was sentenced to 10 years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Charles Whitson Corbitt, 26, was sentenced to 10 years and three months in federal prison without parole. Steven Laverne Blacketer, 46, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Dustin John Benny, 31, was sentenced to nine years and two months in federal prison without parole. Kala Yvette Rose, 48, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison without parole. Leatha Mae Gutierrez, 43, was sentenced to seven years and one month in federal prison without parole. Bruce Allen Bish, 26, was sentenced to seven years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Cody Shawn Gardner, 29, was sentenced to six years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Belinda Leigh Heastan, 36, was sentenced to in federal prison without parole.

Co-defendant Nathan Michael McKee, also known as “Cheesy,” 30, of St. Joseph, pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and awaits sentencing.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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