*CORRECTION: The city of residence for one of the defendants, Cody D. Ezell, was incorrectly reported in the original press release. Ezell is a resident of Hollister, Mo.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Eighteen defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a large scale methamphetamine distribution conspiracy in southwest Missouri, according to a release from US Attorney Teresa A Moore’s Office.
Back in May, three were charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo after an April search warrant uncovered 7lbs of meth, a pistol, $57,000, and drug paraphernalia at the home of Aurora native, Brian E. Hall.
Two other subjects (Bojorquez & Hughley) arrived not long after the raid and were arrested as well, revealing another stash of meth inside the trunk of their car, as well as another handgun.
Now, fifteen additional defendants were charged in a superseding indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield last Wednesday, July 13th. This 37-page indictment was made public upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants. The additional 15 are:
- Christopher A. Blevins, 37, of Fairview, Mo.
- Lawrence D. Gwinup, 43, of Cassville, Mo.
- Jennifer L. Childers, 38, Anthony S. Cooper, 39, and Joseph D. Piunti, 54, all of Bolivar, Mo.
- Guy R. Winchester, 55, of Shell Knob, Mo.
- Kimberly C. Elliott, 42, of Reeds, Mo.
- Cody D. Ezell, 39, of Hollister*, Mo.
- Charles W. Mierisch, 49, of Cole Camp, Mo.
- Kenneth C. Cole, Jr., 61, of Independence, Mo.
- Edward Uribe, 34, who is in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in an unrelated case
- Joseph A. Gilbert, 39, Joel O. Rodriguez, 39, and Shawna R. Bartman, 49, all of Phoenix, Arizona
- Coreena D. Velasco, 29, of Tulsa
Each of the 18 defendants (including the aforementioned three) are charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute meth in Barry, Stone, Polk, Lawrence, Greene, Jasper, and Newton Counties, and elsewhere, from November 1st, 2020 – April 28, 2022.
In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Cole, Cooper, Childers, Elliott, Rodriguez, Mierisch, Bartman, Hall, Winchester, Gwinup, Gilbert, Bojorquez, and Hughley are charged in 18 counts related to the distribution of methamphetamine.
Joseph Piunti was also charged with two counts relating to the distribution of meth within 1,000ft of a Bolivar playground. Charles Mierisch is also charged with one count of possessing meth with intent to distribute on a premises where a minor was present or resides.
Hall is also charged with one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Hall allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol on April 28, 2022.
Bartman is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Bartman allegedly possessed a Hi-Point .45-caliber pistol and a Tanfoglio 9mm pistol on May 19, 2021.
Blevins is also charged with one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Blevins allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm pistol and a Ruger 9mm pistol on April 4, 2022.
Gwinup is also charged with one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Gwinup allegedly possessed a Smith & Wesson SD40 on April 9, 2022.
Bojorquez and Hughley are charged together in one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. They allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol on April 28, 2022.
Hall is also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Uribe, Velasco, Bojorquez, and Hughley are charged together in a separate count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Elliott and Blevins are each charged with one count of money laundering.
Uribe and Velasco are charged in two counts each with the unlawful use of a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
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 Jessica R. Eatmon. It was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, the Barry County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Stone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, COMET (the Combined Ozark Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Team), the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Ottawa County, Ok., Sheriff’s Department, the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department, the Cassville, Mo., Police Department, the Kimberling City, Mo., Police Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.