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Justice News

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Six Southern Missouri Residents Indicted for Large-Scale Meth Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that six southern Missouri residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine.


Michael Ryan Nevatt, 26, Kara Rene Baze, 23, and Scott Bryan Sands, 51, all of Springfield, Mo., Kenneth Bryant Lake, 55, of Strafford, Mo., Jerry Lee Brown, 43, of Lebanon, Mo., and Travis Lee Bethel, 45, of Urbana, Mo., were charged in an indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday, April 21, 2016. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of Sands and Bethel. The indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Nevatt, who is already in federal custody, on March 30, 2016.


The federal indictment alleges that Nevatt, Baze, Sands, Lake, Brown and Bethel participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from Jan. 1, 2013, to April 21, 2016.


According to the affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, a cooperating defendant was arrested by Buchanan County, Mo., sheriff’s deputies in St. Joseph, Mo., on July 20, 2015. The cooperating defendant, who was in possession of approximately 500 grams of methamphetamine and $5,000, allegedly identified Nevatt as his source. The cooperating defendant also told investigators that s/he accompanied Nevatt to Dallas, Texas, on multiple occasions to obtain multiple-pound quantities of methamphetamine, which was then transported back to Missouri for distribution.


According to the affidavit, Nevatt was the middle man between Mexican methamphetamine suppliers and southern Missouri distributors Lake and Brown. A second confidential informant told investigators that s/he had traveled to Dallas, Texas, with Nevatt to pick up pound levels of methamphetamine approximately 20 to 30 times between October 2014 and July 2015. The methamphetamine allegedly was transported back to Springfield for distribution.


According to the affidavit, Lake told investigators that he was the “safe house” and received a percentage for keeping the money safe until he delivered it to Nevatt at a Springfield hotel. Nevatt would then deliver the money to the Mexican suppliers.


Springfield investigators conducted a traffic stop on Nevatt’s motorcycle on July 29, 2015. During an inventory of the motorcycle saddle bags, the affidavit says, officers recovered approximately $66,000. This allegedly was money Nevatt owed to the Mexican suppliers.


On Aug. 28, 2015, officers executed a search warrant at Nevatt’s hotel room in Springfield and recovered methamphetamine and more than $100,000. Baze and Lake were in the hotel room at the time of the search. When Nevatt arrived at the hotel, officers approached him and he fled in his vehicle but was taken into custody.


On March 29, 2016, Nevatt was arrested following a traffic stop conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Webster County, Mo. Troopers seized approximately $39,000 that had been rolled up and wrapped in rubber bands in a plastic shopping bag. A dog alerted on the bag for the odor of controlled substances.


The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged offense, including a money judgment of $530,000. According to the indictment, this represents the amount received in exchange for the unlawful distribution of methamphetamine based on a conservative average street price of $1,000 per ounce and the total conspiracy distribution of at least 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.


Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Lake Area Narcotics Enforcement Group, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Drug Trafficking
Updated April 25, 2016