West Plains Woman Sentenced to 20 Years for Leading Meth Conspiracy
Officers Seized More Than 5 Kilos of Meth From Her Property
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Two West Plains, Missouri, residents were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in Howell, Greene, and Texas counties.
Shirley J. Hicks, 64, and Shaun M. Ross, 44, both of West Plains, were sentenced in separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough. Hicks was sentenced to 20 years and one month in federal prison without parole. Ross was sentenced to six years in federal prison without parole.
Hicks, the leader of the conspiracy, and Ross each pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Howell, Greene, and Texas counties from Dec. 31, 2015, to June 21, 2019. Hicks also pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
When law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hicks’s residence on July 24, 2018, they found a red toolbox inside a shop/barn that contained six bags with a total of 5.627 kilograms of pure methamphetamine. Inside a bedroom closet in the house, officers also found 12 bags with a total of 243 grams of pure methamphetamine inside a black leather bag, and a blue waterproof box that contained 122.892 grams of pure methamphetamine.
During the search, officers also found five handguns in the toolbox and five more firearms in the house. Officers also seized a total of $20,393, which Hicks admitted was proceeds from her distribution of methamphetamine.
Two days later, law enforcement officers were conducting surveillance and saw Ross visit Hicks’s house. Officers conducted a traffic stop afterward and searched Ross’s vehicle, where they found a zippered bag that contained 17.69 grams of methamphetamine, a small bag of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. After Ross was arrested, he told investigators that he purchased methamphetamine from Hicks for $600 per ounce, which he then distributed to others. Ross said he had been getting two or three ounces of methamphetamine from her each month for several months.
Hicks and Ross are among six defendants who have been sentenced in this case.
Fontella J. Noose, 41, of Springfield, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole. Benny D. Griffin, 59, of West Plains, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Jordan W. Gutierrez, 27, of West Plains, was sentenced to 12 years and six months in federal prison without parole. Jose I. Gonzales, 39, of West Plains, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole.
Co-defendants Raymon F. Ortega, 65, of West Plains; James E. Cooper, 54, of Mountain View; and Luis Ortiz Rodriguez, 39, address unknown, have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the South Central Drug Task Force, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Howell County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the West Plains, Mo., Police Department, and the Mountain View, Mo., Police Department.