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Press Release

California Man Pleads Guilty to Meth Conspiracy

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

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a California man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine that was shipped from California to Springfield, Mo.

Romulo Frank Delatorre, 36, of Downey, Calif., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the charge contained in a Dec. 9, 2015, federal indictment.

Co-defendants Michael E. Ford, 37, Lisa Renae Thompson, 39, and John R. Waits, 46, all of Springfield, have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Thompson was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison without parole. Waits and Ford, who also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of that drug-trafficking conspiracy, have not been sentenced.

By pleading guilty today, Delatorre admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from June 1 through Sept. 11, 2015. Delatorre shipped methamphetamine from California to Springfield in two- to two-and-a-half-pound increments to Thompson. Thompson picked up the packages at various hotels in the Springfield area then contacted Ford. Ford picked up the methamphetamine from Thompson and distributed it to others.

After a few days, Ford would then meet with Thompson and give her $10,800. Thompson kept $800 and sent $10,000 to Delatorre.

Thompson admitted that she received approximately 24 pounds of methamphetamine, which she gave to Ford. Thompson also kept some of the methamphetamine and sold it directly to others with the assistance of Waits. Waits sold methamphetamine to an undercover agent on several occasions in June and July 2015. He participated in the conspiracy for six weeks and is responsible for the distribution of 12 pounds of methamphetamine.

After Thompson was arrested on Sept. 11, 2015, Ford began receiving methamphetamine shipments from Delatorre. On Sept. 30, 2015, the Springfield Police Department received a phone call from a FedEx employee about a suspicious package. Police officers delivered the 2.2-pound package of methamphetamine to Ford at a Springfield residence, where he was arrested. Ford had a Ruger .22-caliber handgun in his possession.

Under federal statutes, Delatorre is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull II. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

Updated May 8, 2017

Drug Trafficking