Missouri man pleads guilty to meth conspiracy and illegal firearms; faces 15 years in prison

Meth with police banner

A Missouri man who illegally possessed nine firearms has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene and Cass counties.

Christopher M. Iavolo, 42, of Springfield pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool on Tuesday, June 1, to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

By pleading guilty, Iavolo admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from May 10 to Nov. 8, 2018. During the conspiracy, Iavolo received methamphetamine from a co-defendant who made multiple trips to Texas to acquire kilogram-level quantities. Iavolo then distributed methamphetamine to others.

On Nov. 6, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Iavolo’s residence. Iavolo had a loaded Beretta .32-caliber semi-automatic pistol tucked inside the back of his pants. When officers searched a bedroom, they found a Masterpiece Arms 9mm semi-automatic pistol with an extended high capacity magazine in between the bed’s box spring and mattress. Underneath the bed, they found a loaded HK .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle, a loaded Romarm 7.62x39mm semi-automatic rifle, and a rifle case that contained two loaded Glock 9mm semi-automatic handguns, a loaded Cobra .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol, a loaded Star .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, a loaded Jennings 9mm semi-automatic pistol, numerous handgun magazines, ammunition, a large knife, a rifle scope, and handgun holsters.

Officers also found a safe inside the bedroom closet that contained 33.37 grams of methamphetamine. The bag appeared as if there was once much more methamphetamine inside of it based upon the amount of residue. There was also a metal scoop inside the bag.

Iavolo told officers he traded methamphetamine for most of the firearms. Iavolo admitted to selling three to five ounces of methamphetamine each week for the past several months.

Co-defendants Michael D. Johnson, 53, and Xlyona M. Sharp, 37, have also pleaded guilty.

Under federal statutes, Iavolo is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Sarff. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the Pleasant Hill, Mo., Police Department.