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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Kansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Indictment: Inmate Ran Wichita Drug Ring From A Cell in Oklahoma Penitentiary

WICHITA, KAN. – A 55-count federal indictment with 24 defendants unsealed here today alleges that an inmate ran a drug ring in Wichita from a prison cell in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

McAllister said federal agents began investigating in April 2019 and reviewed thousands of intercepted messages among the alleged traffickers.

“A large scale criminal drug conspiracy operating in Kansas whose shot caller is behind bars in another state talking on a cell phone makes this a unique case in my experience,” McAllister said. “To the alleged traffickers, I think I would say: Can you hear us now?”

The indictment contains detailed descriptions of defendants going about their daily chores, negotiating prices, handling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and trying to do business without drawing attention.

“Today’s arrests and indictments send a clear message: whether you are behind bars or on the street, you will be held accountable. Today, over a 100 federal, state and local officers, working together executed dozens of arrests. The impact of these arrests will be immediate, and our community will be safer due largely in part to the tireless work and dedication of our law enforcement partners. I applaud their dedication and commitment to the community we are sworn to serve,” said Timothy Langan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Kansas City, Missouri.

CALLING THE SHOTS

Travis Knighten, 47, who is being held at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla., is alleged to have been the brains behind a criminal organization that distributed methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine powder, crack cocaine and marijuana in Wichita.

Communicating by cell phone calls and text messages, Knighten is alleged to have directed the movements of almost two dozen conspirators. The indictment alleges Knighten used cell phones obtained while in custody to receive information and to coordinate times and locations for meetings with suppliers. Knighten put together deals with the assistance of a co-defendant who also is an inmate in the same prison, Armando Luna, 39. Knighten also worked with a treasurer outside the prison walls, co-defendant Travis Vontress, 43, Wichita, Kan., as well as other close associates who collected funds to pay suppliers. Lower ranking conspirators were responsible for maintaining stash houses, cutting, packaging and storing drugs, reselling the final products and other duties.

90-YEAR SENTENCE

Although Knighten is being held in Oklahoma, he is still under the authority of the Kansas Department of Corrections. He is serving a 90-year sentence for killing a corrections officer at Lansing Correctional Facility on May 22, 1993. The victim, Officer Mark Avery, died of head injuries received during a fight in the prison recreation building.

In text messages and in phone calls, Knighten and the co-conspirators avoided using words that anyone overhearing them might too easily recognize. They used a variety of slang terms instead. For instance, they might call methamphetamine “ice hockey.” Heroin could be called “Jordan.” Cocaine could be “soda.” Sometimes crack cocaine was “hard” and “gorilla” could be the word for marijuana.

During the conspiracy, many of the co-defendants were known to one another by their street names instead of their given names. Examples include Bizz, P-Boy, E, Booty, YT, Troub, Diablo, Wack, Shot, Leggs, Gray, Bink, Funk, Godfather and Punch.

The conspirators are alleged to have maintained five properties in Wichita as stash houses for processing and storing drugs, including 930 N. Yale, 2548 Somerset, 245 N. Chautauqua, 1411 N. Holyoke and 429 N. Green.

CHARGES AND PENALTIES

Charges and potential penalties include:

  • Operating a continuing criminal enterprise (count 1): Not less than 20 years and a fine up to $2 million.
  • Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (count 2): Not less than 10 years and a fine up to $10 million.
  • Conspiracy to distribute marijuana (count 3): Up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Conspiracy to distribute heroin (count 4): Not less than 15 years and a fine up to $20 million.
  • Conspiracy to distribute cocaine powder (count 5): Not less than 10 years and a fine up to $8 million.
  • Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine (count 6): Not less than 10 years and a fine up to $8 million.
  • Maintaining drug involved premises (counts 7, 8, 9 and 10, 54, ):
  • Unlawful use of a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking (counts 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47): Up to four years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Possession with intent to distribute powder cocaine (count 23): Up  to 20 years and a fine up to $1 million)
  • Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (count 36, 39, 49): Not less than 10 years and a fine up to $10 million.
  • Possession with intent to distribute heroin (count 37): Not less than five years, not more than 40 years, and a fine up to $5 million.
  • Possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking (count 50, 51, 52, 53, 55): Not less than five years and a fine up to $250,000.

 

DEFENDANTS

Here is a list of the defendants:

Richard Adams, 27, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 3, 9, 48, 49 and 52.

David Bell, 46, Wichita, Kan., counts 5, 6, 40 and 50)

Frederick Collins, 47, Wichita, Kan.,counts 2, 5, 6 and 33.

Byron Fitchpatrick, 45, Wichita, Kan., counts 5 and 42.

Eric Goodwin, 53, Wichita, Kan., counts 4, 29 and 30.

Dorzee Hill, 40, Wichita, Kan., counts 3, 4, 5, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31, 32, 35, and 45.

Satoria Hill, 33, Wichita, Kan., counts 5 and 45.

Orlando Hogan, 44, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 4, 9 and 27.

Derek Hubbard, 44, Wichita, Kan., counts 3 and 24.

Travis Knighten, 47, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 24, 25, 38, 40, 44, 47 and 54.

Kevin Lewis, 56, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 16 and 17.

Armando Luna, 39, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, counts 2, 9, 18, 19, 20 and 54.

Trey Martin, 27, Wichita, Kan., counts 3 and 26.

Mario Ponds, 39, Wichita, Kan., counts 5 and 42.

Otis Ponds, 41, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 8 and 41.

Robert Richmond, 48, Wichita, Kan., counts 5, 6 and 46.

Kimberly Schmidtberger, 38, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 4, 6 and 47.

Shantus Smallwood, 46, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 43 and 44.

Travis Vontress, 43, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 4, 5, 10, 21, 22, 23 and 51.

Kevin Walker, 54, Wichita, Kan., counts 4 and 28.

Tia Ward, 40, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 3, 8, 38, 39 and 53.

Eddie Washington, 60, Wichita, Kan., counts 5, 31, and 32.

Trevor Wells, 39, Wichita, Kan., counts 2, 3, 4, 7, 35, 36 and 37 and 55.

Dallas Williams, 38, Wichita, Kan., counts 2 and 34.

The FBI and the Wichita Police Department investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Andrusak and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster are prosecuting. The following agencies assisted with taking defendants into custody: the FBI, the Wichita Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct,

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated March 4, 2020