SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that four south Missouri residents were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Juan Moreno-Malagon, 40, of Highlandville, Mo., Jesus Moreno-Malagon, 56, of Ozark, Mo., Valentin Gomez-Torres, 27, of Battlefield, Mo., and Luis A. Ramon-Lara, 33, of Morrisville, Mo., were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays. Juan Moreno-Malagon was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison without parole. Jesus Moreno-Malagon and Gomez-Torres were each sentenced to seven years and three months in federal prison without parole. Ramon-Lara was sentenced to four years and two months in federal prison without parole.
They are among nine co-defendants who have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in this case.
On Nov. 18, 2013, Juan Moreno-Malagon pleaded guilty to being one of the leaders of a multi-pound methamphetamine conspiracy operating in the Springfield area but also covering Polk, Christian and Taney Counties. The case began when couriers were intercepted in New Mexico and Texas with 4-kilogram loads of methamphetamine. The couriers indicated that the methamphetamine was going to Springfield. The federal investigation included controlled buys and additional seizures of methamphetamine, firearms and cash. Jesus Moreno-Malagon, Gomez-Torres and Ramon-Lara have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
During the investigation, co-defendant Noe Moreno-Malagon, 36, a citizen of Mexico residing in Ozark, Mo., left for Mexico and turned over distribution responsibilities to Juan Moreno-Malagon. After pleading guilty to his role in leading the conspiracy, Noe Moreno-Malagon was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole, which must be served consecutively to his prison sentence in an unrelated state case.
On Dec. 3, 2012, a search warrant was executed in Morrisville, Mo. During the search, DEA agents located 338.1 grams of pure methamphetamine, as well as a handgun and a rifle. The DEA also conducted a search at a Springfield residence believed to be a stash house for the organization. At that location, agents found 123.6 grams of pure methamphetamine.
On Feb. 13, 2012, federal law enforcement agents seized 362 grams of pure methamphetamine (approximately one pound) from co-defendant Paul E. Allen, 59, of Purdy, Mo. Allen admitted to receiving the methamphetamine from Juan Moreno-Malagon. Allen was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.
On June 22, 2012, 224.4 grams of pure methamphetamine was seized from co-defendant Michael D. Eckhoff, 53, of Republic, Mo. Eckhoff admitted that he received the methamphetamine from Gomez-Torres, and that the transaction was arranged by Juan Moreno-Malagon. Eckhoff also admitted that he had received methamphetamine from Noe Moreno-Malagon in the past. Eckhoff was sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
In addition to the seizures, two controlled buys were made on March 27, 2012 and April 12, 2012. In March, 125.1 grams of pure methamphetamine was purchased, and in April, 117.5 grams of pure methamphetamine was purchased. The buys were arranged through Juan Moreno-Malagon. Jesus Moreno-Malagon conducted the actual distribution of methamphetamine on April 12, 2012.
In July, 2012, Noe Moreno-Malagon returned from Mexico and took the operation back over. Communications were intercepted between Noe Moreno-Malagon and Ramon-Lara discussing and arranging for the distribution of methamphetamine. Noe Moreno-Malagon would direct Ramon-Lara to make deliveries of methamphetamine for him.
Co-defendant Rita J. Vera, 35, of Monett, Mo., was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to her role in the conspiracy. Co-defendant Timothy J. Williams, 49, of Strafford, Mo., was sentenced to two years and eight months in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and task force officers from the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Christian County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Ozark, Mo., Police Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the South Central Drug Task Force and COMET (the Combined Ozarks Multijurisdictional Enforcement Team).