Two Plead Guilty in $40 Million Meth Conspiracy
JAN 21 -- (KANSAS CITY, Mo.) – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two more defendants pleaded guilty in federal court today to their roles in a criminal conspiracy that involved at least 1,000 pounds of pseudoephedrine taken from the Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Kansas City, Mo., leading to the manufacture of more than $40 million worth of methamphetamine.
The three-year investigation began in February 2007, following the theft of a 50-kilogram (110 pounds) drum of pharmaceutical pseudoephedrine powder taken during an armed robbery and kidnapping at the facility on Super Bowl Sunday. Twenty defendants have already pleaded guilty in several related cases, including the armed gunman, James Robert “Bimbo” Everson , 41, of Kansas City, Kan. In addition to the armed robbery, investigators learned that at least 1,000 pounds of pseudoephedrine waste material had also been diverted from the facility over an approximately 10-year period of time, which would have led to the manufacture of more than $40 million worth of methamphetamine.
Garland Duane Hankins , 42, of Oak Grove, Mo., and Blake William Folsom , 42, of Raytown, Mo., pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright this morning to the charges contained in a May 19, 2009, federal indictment.
Sanofi-Aventis manufactures the allergy medication Allegra-D which contains pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine. The manufacturing process at Sanofi-Aventis generates waste material which is still pharmaceutical grade pseudoephedrine powder, but is unusable for pharmaceutical production. Heritage Environmental Services, a Kansas City, Mo., business, was contracted by Sanofi-Aventis to remove and dispose of the waste material. For approximately 12 years, Hankins worked at Heritage and was the primary contractor responsible for removing pseudoephedrine waste from the Sanofi-Aventis facility. At the time of his arrest, Hankins admitted to stealing portions of the waste over a 10-year period. Hankins and others admitted to selling the pseudoephedrine for $3,000 to $10,000 per pound.
Hankins admitted that the pseudoephedrine bought and sold during the conspiracy exceeds 1,000 pounds. Based on the prices used by defendants and others, 1,000 pounds of the raw pharmaceutical grade pseudoephedrine diverted from Sanofi-Aventis had a street value of more than $7 million. That amount of pseudoephedrine could have been used to manufacture more than $40 million worth of methamphetamine. (The 1,000 pounds of pseudoephedrine could create 920 pounds of pure methamphetamine, which sells on the street for $2,800 an ounce, a total of $41,216,000).
Hankins primarily sold the stolen pseudoephedrine to co-defendant Stacey Marie Walker , 38, of Blue Springs, Mo., who in turn sold to other co-defendants, including Folsom . On April 3, 2007, a search warrant was executed at a residence in Lee's Summit, Mo., where Folsom was found in possession of parts of a methamphetamine lab and 512 grams of pharmaceutical grade pseudoephedrine powder.
In addition to Hankins , Folsom and Walker , co-defendants Ryan Edward Breit , 32, of Peculiar, Mo., Harley William Harvey, Jr. , 42, of Blue Springs, Mo., Mindy Lynn Morris , 32, of Platte City, Mo., Kristi L. Stephenson, 37, of Kansas City, Mo., Julie Ann Weber Hankins Torneden , 45, of Lone Jack, Mo., Gina Louise Vigliaturo , 31, of Independence, Mo., and Robert Bruce Jameson , 47, of Kansas City, Mo., have also pleaded guilty to the charges contained in a May 19, 2009, federal indictment relating to the diversion of pseudoephedrine waste.
Under federal statutes, Hankins is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of to life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $4 million. Folsom is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each of two counts, plus a fine up to $250,000 on each count. 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 Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.