Four defendants plead guilty to conspiracy involving 112 pounds of meth near elementary school

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Four defendants have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a conspiracy that converted large amounts of liquid methamphetamine into crystal methamphetamine at a rented house within 1,000 feet of George Melcher Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jose Vieyra-Lopez, 37, a citizen of Mexico; Megan Eubanks, 40, of Kansas City, Mo., and Victor Suarez-Gallardo, 33, of Kansas, each pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough on Thursday, Feb. 3. Vieyra-Lopez and Suarez-Gallardo each pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school from Jan. 1, 2014, to May 18, 2018. Eubanks pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Co-defendant Ruben Ortiz-Vieyra, 42, of Kansas City, Mo., a lawful permanent resident of the United States from Mexico, pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy within 1,000 feet of a school on Jan. 12, 2022.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Vieyra-Lopez, Suarez-Gallardo, and Ortiz-Vieyra each pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Suarez-Gallardo, Ortiz-Vieyra, and Eubanks each also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing or using firearms with drug trafficking. Ortiz-Vieyra also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess or use firearms with drug trafficking.

According to their plea agreements, Ortiz-Vieyra supplied methamphetamine to Eubanks. Vieyra-Lopez was the drug runner for Ortiz-Vieyra.

On April 26, 2018, a confidential informant purchased a one-half pound of methamphetamine from Eubanks for $3,000 in a transaction that involved Ortiz-Vieyra. On May 2, 2018, the confidential informant purchased one pound of methamphetamine from Eubanks for $5,000. Ortiz-Vieyra was also involved in the transaction. On May 8, 2018, the confidential informant purchased one-half pound of methamphetamine. Ortiz-Vieyra and Vieyra-Lopez were involved in the transaction.

On May 15, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Eubanks’s residence. Officers seized methamphetamine, marijuana, a Ruger .380-caliber pistol, a box of ammunition, a counterfeit $100 bill, and drug paraphernalia.

On May 17, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at a Kansas City, Mo., residence controlled by Ortiz-Vieyra and Suarez-Gallardo. There was no furniture or other items inside the residence to make it appear occupied. Instead, officers found a black cooking stand that had a pan sitting on top that contained liquid methamphetamine. The residence is approximately 484 feet from George Melcher Elementary School.

Ortiz-Vieyra admitted that he rented houses where he converted liquid methamphetamine into a crystallized form of methamphetamine for sale, including approximately five pounds of methamphetamine approximately one week before his arrest on May 17, 2018. Ortiz-Vieyra admitted that he sold methamphetamine to Eubanks and others. The next day Suarez-Gallardo, who had also been observed at the residence where methamphetamine was being converted, was arrested. Officers found acetone and a Berretta .45-caliber firearm at his residence. Suarez-Gallardo identified Ortiz-Vieyra as the conversion cook. Suarez-Gallardo admitted that he had distributed 10 to 15 pounds of methamphetamine from the conversion lab.

Under the terms of their plea agreements, the defendants must forfeit to the government $1,080,000, which was received for the unlawful distribution of methamphetamine, based on a sale price of $600 per ounce and the distribution of 1,800 ounces (112.5 pounds) of methamphetamine.

Under federal statutes, each of the defendants 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.  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. Attorneys Bruce Rhoades and Robert Smith. It was investigated by the Jackson County Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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