News and Press Releases

NITRO update
21 defendants indicted for $1.4 million drug-trafficking,
firearms conspiracies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that 21 defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in multiple drug-trafficking conspiracies that totaled more than $1.4 million in illicit proceeds, as well as illegally possessing firearms.

“This drug-trafficking organization allegedly operated from Kansas City, Kan., into northwest Missouri,” Phillips said. “Armed drug dealers don’t stop at the state line, which means federal and local law enforcement must cooperate across state lines. We are working alongside our law enforcement partners to stop meth trafficking in our community.”

“This indictment is the culmination of over two years of hard work,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Gleysteen. “This investigation is more evidence that ATF’s commitment to combating violent crime is unwavering. We will utilize every resource to make our communities safer places to live.”

Mauricio Ramos-Hernandez, 36, a Mexican national, and his wife, Christina Ramos, 31, both of Kansas City, Kan., Cesar Bejarano-Mendoza, 50, Antonio Conde De La Fuente, 20, Jose “Leonel” Conde De La Fuente, age unknown, Leonel Hernandez, 32, and Jose Luis Morales, 29, all of whom are Mexican nationals residing in Kansas City, Kan., Jorge Arellano, 40, James Cartwright, 44, Kirk Magenheimer, 32, Roger Mahan, Jr., 31, and Floyd Martin, 32, all of Kansas City, Kan., Adolfo Mendoza, 30, and Enrique Roman-Marcado, 34, both of whom are Mexican nationals residing in Kansas City, Mo., Jose Morfin, 32, and Jeffrey Steenrod, 45, both of Kansas City, Mo., Rodney Bethards, 49, of Laredo, Mo., Clinton K. Sibbit, 42, of Trenton, Mo., and Ramiro Marrufo-Escarcega, 23, and Mariano Ramirez,23, both of whom are Mexican nationals with unknown addresses, were charged in a 16-count indictment that was returned under seal on Monday, May 23, 2011. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.

The federal indictment alleges that all of the defendants – with the exception of Ramirez – participated in a conspiracy since January 2008 to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

The indictment alleges that Mauricio Ramos-Hernandez, Christina Ramos, Antonio Conde De La Fuente, Leonel Conde De La Fuente, Bejarano-Mendoza, Marrufo-Escarcega and Hernandez participated in another conspiracy to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine from Aug. 12 to 22, 2010.

The indictment alleges that Mauricio Ramos-Hernandez, Mendoza, Antonio Conde De La Fuente, Hernandez and Roman-Marcado participated in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine from July 13 to15, 2010.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracies, the indictment also alleges that Mendoza, Morales and Ramirez participated in a conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Ramirez is also charged with one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that Ramirez was in possession of an Israeli Military Industries .45-caliber pistol.

McCulloch and Steenrod are charged together with one count of aiding and abetting one another to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine. McCulloch and Mendoza are charged together with two counts of aiding and abetting one another to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine. McCulloch, Mendoza and Morales are charged together with one count of aiding and abetting one another to possess with the intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine. McCulloch is also charged with three additional counts of distributing five grams or more of methamphetamine.

Mendoza and Morales are charged together with one count of aiding and abetting one another to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Mendoza and Roman-Marcado are charged together with one count of aiding and abetting one another to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine.

Sibbit and Bethards are charged together with one count of distributing methamphetamine. Sibbit is also charged with being a felon in possession of firearms. The indictment alleges that Sibbit, who has been convicted of a felony, was in possession of a New England Firearms .22-caliber revolver and a Ruger .22-caliber rifle.

The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property or proceeds obtained from the drug-trafficking conspiracies, or that were used to commit the alleged violations, including a money judgment of $1,408,000, three residential properties in Kansas City, Kan., a 2004 Ford Expedition and a 2007 Chrysler 300C.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudolph R. Rhodes, IV. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ NITRO Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assisting agencies included the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Grundy County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

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