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Press Release

California Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Arkansas

            Hot Springs - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jacob Spurlin aka John Ray Monroe, age 32, of Turlock, California, was sentenced this week to 84 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

            According to court records, on February 27, 2015, while investigators with the 18th East Judicial Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations were conducting screening of multiple packages utilizing a canine at the FedEx store located in Hot Springs, the canine alerted on a package being sent from California to Michelle Ratliff.  After obtaining a search warrant for the package, investigators opened the package and located four candles that had been hollowed out and filled with vacuumed sealed bags of methamphetamine. Michelle Ratliff had called FedEx earlier that day and advised that she would be picking up her package on her lunch break.  She later arrived, showed her identification, and picked up the package.  When she left the store, she entered the passenger side of a black Cadillac Escalade driven by Jacob Spurlin. As they attempted to leave the parking lot of FedEx, officers stopped the Escalade, arrested both subjects and took them into custody.  A review of text messages from Ratliff’s phone revealed that Spurlin had been communicating with her about picking up the package which contained 256 grams of methamphetamine.  On April 16, 2015, Spurlin was arrested on a federal warrant out of the Western District of Arkansas and interviewed by agents with Homeland Security Investigations. Spurlin admitted to being involved in drug trafficking in the Hot Springs area and explained his role in receiving packages from out of state for further distribution. Spurlin was indicted by a federal grand jury in April, 2015 and pleaded guilty in August, 2015.

            The co-defendant Michelle Ratliff also pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine in August, 2015, and is awaiting sentencing. 

            This case was investigated by the 18th Judicial District East Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations.  Assistant United States Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.

Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @

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Updated March 30, 2016

Drug Trafficking