Four More from Methamphetamine Wiretap Investigation Plead Guilty in Federal Court
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Four men who were caught in a federal wiretap investigation into methamphetamine trafficking between California and Iowa pled guilty last week in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Robert Lee Michael Bates, age 30, from Marion, Iowa, Phillip Lanell Rogers, age 48, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Anton Tarrice Whitney, Jr., age 32, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were each convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Timothy Michael Webber, age 45, from Waterloo, Iowa, pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Evidence at prior hearings in the case showed that David Belton, a/k/a “Blood,” and others orchestrated shipments of between 30 to 60 pounds of ice methamphetamine between Los Angeles, California, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, between 2017 and March 2022. Belton paid other individuals to transport the ice methamphetamine, typically in a vehicle that contained a specially made hidden compartment. Once the ice methamphetamine arrived in Cedar Rapids, Belton or his associate would retrieve the methamphetamine and distribute it to other members of the organization for sale to customers.
In late 2021, the Cedar Rapids DEA conducted a wiretap investigation into Belton’s drug organization. In February 2022, intercepted communications indicated that a shipment of 60 pounds of ice methamphetamine was going to be coming from California to Iowa. Investigators tracked a courier driving a rental truck from Los Angeles to Nebraska, where the truck was stopped. During a search of the cargo area of the truck, officers found a plastic tote containing 60 pounds of ice methamphetamine.
Evidence at prior hearings showed that Bates was intercepted over the wiretap ordering pounds of ice methamphetamine from the Belton drug organization.
In a plea agreement, Rogers admitted that he was also involved in the ice methamphetamine conspiracy. He also admitted that he sold ice methamphetamine to a cooperating individual on three occasions in 2021, and on another occasion in 2022. During a search of Rogers’s residence in March 2022, investigators seized digital scales, ammunition, marijuana, and a small amount of methamphetamine.
In a plea agreement, Whitney admitted that his role in the conspiracy was to collect cash proceeds of the ice methamphetamine sales for Belton and one of his associates. He also admitted that in addition to collecting drug debts for Belton’s organization, he sold ecstasy pills. During a search of Whitney’s residence in March 2022, investigators seized over 60 grams of purported ecstasy pills that were later determined to contain methamphetamine. Investigators also seized a handgun, several rounds of ammunition, two semiautomatic handgun conversion kits, a 31‑round magazine, and a 60-round drum magazine. Whitney admitted that, at the time he possessed the firearm and ammunition, he was prohibited from possessing firearms because he was an unlawful user of marijuana.
Evidence at a prior hearing showed that Webber was intercepted over the wiretap ordering pounds of methamphetamine from the Belton drug organization. In his plea agreement, Webber admitted that in April 2022, state investigators searched his residence in Waterloo and seized over 380 grams of ice methamphetamine and $25,550 in cash proceeds of prior ice methamphetamine sales.
Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after presentence reports are prepared. Each man remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing. Each faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $10,000,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of the DEA Task Force in Cedar Rapids and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The DEA Task Force in Cedar Rapids consists of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 22‑CR‑39‑CJW‑MAR.
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Updated February 7, 2023