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Press Release

Joplin Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Meth Conspiracy

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

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Jasper and Newton counties.


Vance W. Cooley, 60, of Joplin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to 15 years in federal prison without parole.


On March 7, 2016, Cooley pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Jasper and Newton counties from Oct. 24, 2014, to March 13, 2015.


Co-defendant David B. Garrett, 60, of Joplin, pleaded guilty on March 8, 2016, and co-defendant Sheldon John Oliver, 60, of Carl Junction, pleaded guilty on March 7, 2016, to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Cooley admitted that he supplied methamphetamine to Garrett and Oliver, who admitted they distributed methamphetamine to other persons in Jasper and Newton counties. Garrett was sentenced on Aug. 17, 2016 to 10 years in federal prison without parole; Oliver is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016.


The investigation began on Oct. 24, 2014, when a Jasper County sheriff’s deputy saw two flashlights in a wooded area behind Cooley’s residence on Rabbit Run Road in Joplin. The deputy saw two people loading items into the back of a Chevrolet S10 truck. Cooley, who was one of the men, then got into the truck and started driving. When the deputy conducted a traffic stop, he arrested Cooley for driving with a revoked license. The deputy found a baggie containing 8.6 grams of methamphetamine and $1,608 in Cooley’s possession. After searching Cooley’s vehicle, deputies found a Mossberg 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, a Mauser 7.65-caliber rifle, an EIG .22-caliber rifle, an EIG .22-caliber revolver and various rounds of ammunition in the bed of the truck.


On Dec. 10, 2014, Jasper County Drug Task Force officers met with a confidential source who provided information regarding illegal narcotics being sold from Cooley’s residence. Officers conducted surveillance on the residence and saw Oliver and Garrett leave in a Chevrolet Lumina. Deputies conducted a traffic stop and found a marijuana joint and two hypodermic needles in the vehicle; Oliver and Garrett were placed under arrest. Deputies searched Oliver and found approximately nine grams of methamphetamine in his watch pocket. Deputies searched Garrett and found approximately 32 grams of methamphetamine in his shirt pocket.


Task force officers executed a search warrant at Cooley’s residence on Dec. 10, 2014. Officers found 575 grams of methamphetamine, individually packaged in Ziploc baggies, inside a Chevrolet pick-up truck that was parked in a detached garage. They also found another Ziploc baggie containing approximately 58 grams of methamphetamine inside a leather-bound box in the truck. Approximately 633 grams of methamphetamine in total was found inside the truck.


On Jan. 13, 2015, members of the Jasper County Drug Task Force and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department executed a search warrant at Oliver’s residence. Oliver and his wife were detained in an RV located on the rear of the property. Officers found a black case on the floor of the RV that contained a bag with 2.8 grams of methamphetamine, several baggies (commonly used for distribution) and a spoon. Also discovered in the RV were two scales and syringes.


On Jan. 22, 2015, members of the Jasper County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on a hotel room in Joplin occupied by Garrett. Garrett, who was inside the hotel room with an unidentified female, had approximately 10 grams of methamphetamine, approximately two grams of cocaine, and approximately 10 grams of marijuana on the nightstand.


Later that night, task force officers executed a search warrant at Garrett’s residence. They found a Thompson .50-caliber muzzle loader, a loaded Davis Industries .38-caliber pistol, a loaded Bridge 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun, a Stevens .410 sawed-off shotgun and various rounds of ammunition. Garrett admitted that he possessed the firearms and ammunition in connection with his involvement in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.


Cooley was arrested by Joplin police officers on March 13, 2015. At the time of his arrest, Cooley was in possession of approximately 3.6 grams of methamphetamine, two 10mg pills of Diazepam and three Acetaminophen and Oxycodone hydrochloride pills. A police detective searched Cooley’s vehicle and found a clear plastic baggie containing approximately 7.2 grams of methamphetamine underneath the driver’s seat. The police detective also found a loaded Taurus .38-caliber revolver and a loaded Thompson Auto Ordinance .45-caliber handgun inside a green bag in the trunk.


Approximately 650 grams of methamphetamine, in total, was seized from Cooley during the investigation of this case.


This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jody Larison. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, the Jasper County Drug Task Force (now the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team), the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Updated August 18, 2016

Drug Trafficking