18 Defendants Indicted for Meth Conspiracy
18 Agencies Participated in Investigation Leading to Seizure of 29 Pound of Meth, Firearms
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Eighteen defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri after law enforcement officers seized approximately 29 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately $57,000, and firearms.
Brian E. Hall, 45, of Aurora, Mo., Jacqueline Aldrete Bojorquez, 28, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Jeffrey L. Hughley, 37, of Tulsa, Okla., were originally charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on May 31, 2022. Fifteen additional defendants were charged in a superseding indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. The superseding indictment was unsealed and made public upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.
Christopher A. Blevins, 37, of Fairview, Mo.; Lawrence D. Gwinup, 43, of Cassville, Mo.; Jennifer L. Childers, 38, Anthony S. Cooper, 39, and Joseph D. Piunti, 54, all of Bolivar, Mo.; Guy R. Winchester, 55, of Shell Knob, Mo.; Kimberly C. Elliott, 42, of Reeds, Mo.; Cody D. Ezell, 39, of Hollister, Mo.; Charles W. Mierisch, 49, of Cole Camp, Mo.; Kenneth C. Cole, Jr., 61, of Independence, Mo.; Edward Uribe, 34, who is in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in an unrelated case; Joseph A. Gilbert, 39, Joel O. Rodriguez, 39, and Shawna R. Bartman, 49, all of Phoenix, Arizona; and Coreena D. Velasco, 29, of Tulsa; along with the original defendants Hall, Bojorquez, and Hughley, were charged in the 37-count superseding indictment.
The federal indictment charges each of the 18 defendants with participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Barry, Stone, Polk, Lawrence, Greene, Jasper, and Newton Counties, and elsewhere, from Nov. 1, 2020, to April 28, 2022.
According to court documents, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hall’s residence on April 28, 2022, as part of an ongoing methamphetamine investigation. Officers seized seven pounds of methamphetamine, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol, approximately $57,000 in cash, and drug paraphernalia used for the packaging and sale of methamphetamine.
When Bojorquez and Hughley arrived at Hall’s residence later that night, they were taken into custody as well. Officers searched their vehicle and found approximately 22 pounds of methamphetamine in the trunk and a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the floorboard of the front passenger seat.
In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Cole, Cooper, Childers, Elliott, Rodriguez, Mierisch, Bartman, Hall, Winchester, Gwinup, Gilbert, Bojorquez, and Hughley are charged in 18 counts related to the distribution of methamphetamine. Piunti is charged with two counts relating to the distribution of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of the Elmwood Park playground in Bolivar. Mierisch is also charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute on a premises where a minor was present or resides.
Hall is also charged with one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Hall allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol on April 28, 2022.
Bartman is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Bartman allegedly possessed a Hi-Point .45-caliber pistol and a Tanfoglio 9mm pistol on May 19, 2021.
Blevins is also charged with one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Blevins allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm pistol and a Ruger 9mm pistol on April 4, 2022.
Gwinup is also charged with one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Gwinup allegedly possessed a Smith & Wesson SD40 on April 9, 2022.
Bojorquez and Hughley are charged together in one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. They allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol on April 28, 2022.
Hall is also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Uribe, Velasco, Bojorquez, and Hughley are charged together in a separate count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Elliott and Blevins are each charged with one count of money laundering.
Uribe and Velasco are charged in two counts each with the unlawful use of a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
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 Jessica R. Eatmon. It was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, the Barry County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Stone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, COMET (the Combined Ozark Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Team), the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Ottawa County, Ok., Sheriff’s Department, the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department, the Cassville, Mo., Police Department, the Kimberling City, Mo., Police Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.