News Release
May 13, 2008
Contact: Thomas E. Murphy
(314) 538-4660

Iowa Man Sentenced to Ten Years for Distributing Methamphetamine

MAY 13 -- Des Moines, IA- On May 9, 2008, 23 year old John Patrick HIGGINS, Jr. of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was sentenced to nine and one-half years for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine in Western Iowa and being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker. United States District, Judge James Gritzner, also ordered Higgins to serve a five year term of supervised release following incarceration and pay a $100 assessment to the Crime Victim Fund.

On December 18, 2007, Higgins entered a guilty plea to conspiring to distributing methamphetamine in Western Iowa between September 2006 and February 2007. Higgins is one of fifteen people involved in the network, that distributed methamphetamine received from Mexico through Omaha into Western Iowa. When arrested on January 11, 2007, Higgins was in possession of a loaded nine millimeter handgun along with methamphetamine.

Previously, co-conspirators: Angela Wise was sentenced to 168 months on July 27, 2007. Michelle Newton was sentenced to 120 months on August 24, 2007. Kent Merksick was sentenced to 160 months on September 17, 2007. Kenneth L. Ragland, a/k/a Kenneth McCoy, was sentenced to 216 months on September 24, 2007. Carol Ann Wheeler was sentenced to 170 months on October 12, 2007. Steven Dale Bascue was sentenced to 168 months on October 26, 2007. Travis Lee Lebanousky was sentenced to 97 months on November 2, 2007. Melvin Parra Acosta was sentenced to 135 months on November 16, 2007. Melissa Hiltabidel was sentenced to 58 months on November 30, 2007, and Padgett Hoffman was sentenced to 120 months on February 1, 2008.

The investigation was conducted by the Council Bluffs, Iowa, Police Department, the SWINE Task Force, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.