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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mexican National Sentenced to 15 Years for Meth Conspiracy

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Mexican national was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in the Joplin, Mo., area.

Sergio Diaz-Ortiz, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Diaz-Ortiz to forfeit to the government $10,331 that was seized by law enforcement officers.

On April 10, 2018, Diaz-Ortiz pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the hotel room where Diaz-Ortiz was staying in Joplin, on June 16, 2016. Officers seized three pounds of methamphetamine, three cell phones, an Apple laptop, a Samsung tablet, $10,331 and a Beretta 9mm pistol. 

Diaz-Ortiz told investigators that this was his second trip to Joplin with five pounds of methamphetamine being delivered to him for further distribution. Diaz-Ortiz received the pre-packaged methamphetamine (packaged in one-pound increments) after he arrived at the hotel. He took the methamphetamine to his hotel room and received instructions by cell phone regarding the names and amounts of methamphetamine each person should receive that would arrive at his hotel room. Two pounds of methamphetamine had already been picked up, he said.

Diaz-Ortiz supplied methamphetamine to co-defendant Justin Lee Thurston, 34, of Joplin, who in turn sold methamphetamine to co-defendant Casey Joe Simpson, 37, of Carthage, Mo. Thurston and Simpson have each been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull II. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team, the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, DEA Drug Task Force 3, Downstream Casino security and the Quapaw Police Department.

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated August 30, 2018