Area residents indicted in federal meth case

·4 min read

Jul. 19—Several residents of Southwest Missouri are among 18 people named in a federal grand jury indictment alleging conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

The indictment alleges that law enforcement officers seized approximately 29 pounds of methamphetamine, $57,000 and firearms in the arrests related to the distribution of methamphetamine from Nov. 1, 2020, to April 28, 2022, in Barry, Stone, Polk, Lawrence, Greene, Jasper and Newton counties and elsewhere.

Fifteen are charged in an indictment that was returned under seal on July 13 by a U.S. district court grand jury in Springfield. It has now been made public since arrests and initial court appearances have been made by several of those named, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of Western Missouri.

Those indicted include Christopher A. Blevins, 37, of Fairview; Lawrence D. Gwinup, 43, of Cassville; and Kimberly C. Elliott, 42, of Reeds.

Also named are Jennifer L. Childers, 38, Anthony S. Cooper, 39, and Joseph D. Piunti, 54, all of Bolivar; Guy R. Winchester, 55, of Shell Knob; Cody D. Ezell, 39, of Piedmont; Charles W. Mierisch, 49, of Cole Camp; Kenneth C. Cole Jr., 61, of Independence; 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; and Coreena D. Velasco, 29, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Three people were originally charged in May and now are joined in the superseding indictment. They are Brian E. Hall, 45, of Aurora; Jacqueline Aldrete Bojorquez, 28, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Jeffrey L. Hughley, 37, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

According to court documents, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hall's residence on April 28, 2022, as part of an ongoing methamphetamine investigation. Officers seized seven pounds of methamphetamine, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol, approximately $57,000 in cash and drug paraphernalia used for the packaging and sale of methamphetamine.

When Bojorquez and Hughley arrived at Hall's residence later that night, they were taken into custody as well. Officers searched their vehicle and found approximately 22 pounds of methamphetamine in the trunk and a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the floorboard of the front passenger seat, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

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. Piunti is charged with two counts relating to the distribution of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of the Elmwood Park playground in Bolivar. Mierisch is also charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the 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 case 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 Sheriff's Office, the Stone County Sheriff's Office, the Combined Ozark Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Team, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Greene County Sheriff's Office, the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the Ottawa County (Oklahoma) Sheriff's Department, the Bolivar Police Department, the Cassville Police Department, the Kimberling City Police Department, the Springfield Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.