Operation Buckshot - Four Plead Guilty to Multi-Million Dollar Methamphetamine Conspiracy
JUL 29 -- SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that four defendants have pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to distribute millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine in Barton County, Mo., and elsewhere. Operation Buckshot is a multi-agency investigation into a large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracy that involved the distribution of methamphetamine from California through Kansas City, Mo., and into southwest Missouri. The investigation involved numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Brandon R. Stone, 26, of Nevada, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charges contained in an Oct. 3, 2007, federal indictment. Stone is the fourth defendant to plead guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of pure methamphetamine from December 2005 to Aug. 31, 2007. Roderick P. Conway, 37, of Lamar, Mo., Dustin L. Vittetoe, 34, of Horton, Mo., and David C. Paniagua, 39, of Highland, Calif., have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Each of the defendants admitted that the amount of pure methamphetamine attributable to him is more than 1.5 kilograms.
Paniagua admitted that he helped broker and served as an interpreter for methamphetamine sales between conspirators in California. Paniagua also assisted by traveling from California to Kansas City to help facilitate the delivery of methamphetamine to Kansas City, or the delivery of money from the proceeds of methamphetamine sales from Kansas City back to California.
Stone also pleaded guilty today to illegally possessing a firearm. Stone admitted that he was in possession of a Savage Arms .22-caliber rifle on July 11, 2007, in Vernon County, Mo. At that time, Stone was an unlawful user of methamphetamine.
Under federal statutes, Conway could be subject to a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $8 million. Vittetoe could be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $8 million. Stone and Paniagua each could be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $4 million. 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. Attorney David P. Rush. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the sheriff’s departments of Vernon, Barton, and Jasper Counties, CNET (the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the police departments of Lamar, Mo., and Nevada, Mo.