Operation Family Tree
DEC 10 -- ( SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) – Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Flemington, Mo., woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to her role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. This conviction is a result of Operation Family Tree, a multi-agency investigation into shipments of large quantities of methamphetamine from Arizona for distribution in Greene County, Mo.
Lori G. Weese , 49, of Flemington, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009, to her role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County from December 2004 to November 2006. Weese also pleaded guilty to her role in a money-laundering conspiracy involving drug-trafficking proceeds.
Weese admitted that she received shipments of methamphetamine from co-conspirators in Arizona, which she distributed to others in southwest Missouri – including her three daughters, who are co-defendants. During the conspiracy, Weese received multi-pound shipments of methamphetamine on a weekly basis, for which she paid up to $20,000 per pound.
Weese paid approximately $6 million to her suppliers for the shipments of methamphetamine. Weese paid for the methamphetamine by hiding the cash inside the door of a vehicle that was driven back to the suppliers in Arizona. Drug proceeds were also deposited into bank accounts by co-conspirators. Weese also conducted wire transfers of the drug-trafficking proceeds to Arizona or Mexico.
Weese is among 16 co-defendants who have pleaded guilty as a result of Operation Family Tree. Also pleading guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy are Weese’s daughters, Sarah A. Weese, 23, of Nixa, Stephanie K. Weese, 27, of Springfield, and Krystal G. Weese, 22, address unknown, as well as Michael A. Trujillo, 29, of Flemington, Jason W. Condra, 25, Toreiko S. Miller, 35, Joshua L. Kelley, 30, Angela M. Gentry, 41, and Jorge C. Ramirez, 26, all of Springfield, Richard A. Lester, 30, of Republic, Mo., Aaron M. Garger, 45, of Buffalo, Mo., Charles M. Doyle, 48, incarcerated in federal prison, and Rebecca P. Tudor, 52, of Phoenix, Ariz.
Juan Avila , also known as “Whopper,” 31, of Litchfield, Ariz., was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the methamphetamine conspiracy. Edward Ortiz, also known as “Juante,” 22, of Youngstown, Ariz., was sentenced to 12 years and six months in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the methamphetamine conspiracy.
Under federal statutes, Lori Weese is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $4.5 million. A s entencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation 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, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Polk County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, COMET (the Combined Ozarks Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team), the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.