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Press Release

Jury Convicts Two Ozark Men, California Man of 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 today that two Ozark, Mo., men and a Los Angeles, Calif., man have been convicted in federal court of their roles in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri.

 

Philip Delgrosso, 63, and Jeffrey A. Cain, 40, both of Ozark, and Cesar Ramon Avila-Hernandez, 28, of Los Angeles, were found guilty on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County, Christian County and Webster County from Sept. 4, 2012, to June 5, 2013.

 

In addition to the conspiracy, Delgrosso and Cain were found guilty of participating in a money-laundering conspiracy related to their sales of multiple vehicles to co-conspirators, who purchased the vehicles from them at Missouri Auto Group Motors, LLC with drug-trafficking proceeds. Delgrosso and Cain also were found guilty of one count of engaging in money laundering together, and each found guilty of an additional separate count of money laundering. Delgrosso was also convicted of one count of failing to file a federal currency transaction report after receiving more than $10,000 in a transaction. Avila-Hernandez was also found guilty of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

 

Evidence submitted during the trial indicated that the conspiracy was receiving multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine from sources in Arizona and California for distribution in southwest Missouri. Conspirators used the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy to purchase numerous vehicles from Delgrosso and Cain at Missouri Auto Group.

 

For example, on April 7, 2013, co-defendant Jerry Dean Wright, Jr., 39, of Ozark, brought approximately $47,848 in cash to Missouri Auto and gave it to Delgrosso for the purchase of a 2010 Dodge Challenger and a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The money used to purchase the Challenger and the Camaro was derived from Wrights’ distribution of methamphetamine. Other vehicles purchased at Missouri Auto Group from the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy included a 1998 Jaguar, two 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycles, a 2004 Chevrolet SSR, a 2005 Pontiac GTO, a 2006 Chrysler 300C, a 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche, a 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche, two 2010 Chevrolet Camaros, a 2010 Dodge Challenger and a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro.

 

In October 2012, several co-defendants drove to Arizona, where they picked up 25 pounds of methamphetamine then returned to Springfield and delivered the methamphetamine to Wright. Wright also arranged for at least three other multi-pound shipments of methamphetamine to be sent to Missouri in a VW Beetle that was equipped with a hidden compartment. On April 11, 2013, the Texas Department of Public Safety stopped a BMW X5 in Amarillo, Texas. The vehicle, which was connected to Wright, was carrying approximately nine pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment.

 

On June 5, 2013, law enforcement officers saw Avila-Hernandez get into a Mercedes that they had learned had just been used to deliver a large quantity of methamphetamine to Springfield. A co-defendant had driven the vehicle from California to Springfield, and Avila-Hernandez flew from California to meet several co-defendants in Springfield and deliver the methamphetamine to Wright for distribution in southwest Missouri.

 

Avila-Hernandez met several other people in a hotel parking lot, and with Avila-Hernandez driving the Mercedes and the other persons in two other vehicles, they left Springfield eastbound on U.S. Highway 60. They were stopped by law enforcement officers between the cities of Rogersville and Seymour.  Officers searched the Mercedes and found approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine.

 

On the same day, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Missouri Auto Group. Cain told federal agents that he met Wright a few months earlier, when Wright bought a blue Volkswagen from the Missouri Auto Group. Wright began working for the Missouri Auto Group soon thereafter. Cain also told federal agents that Delgrosso was the de facto owner of the Missouri Auto Group, but had a criminal history that prevented him from being the actual owner.  Cain said Wright had purchased several vehicles through the Missouri Auto Group; Wright had personally paid Cain in cash to help him purchase vehicles.

 

Wright was sentenced on Nov. 18, 2014, to 20 years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to money laundering. Wright is among 12 co-defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case.

 

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for about three and a half hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips, ending a trial that began Monday, Aug. 24, 2015.

 

Under federal statutes, Delgrosso, Cain and Avila-Hernandez are each subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole. Avila-Hernandez must also forfeit to the government a Cadillac Escalade and $5,700 that was seized by law enforcement officers. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy A. Garrison and Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Webster County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Ozark, Mo., Police Department.

Updated August 31, 2015

Topic
Drug Trafficking