Missouri man sentenced to 10-years in prison without parole for distribution of methamphetamine

Prison Sentence

A Missouri man was sentenced in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Howell, Greene, and Texas counties.

Jose I. Gonzales, 39, of West Plains, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 10 years in federal prison without parole.

On July 23, 2020, Gonzales pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from Dec. 31, 2015, to June 21, 2019. Gonzales admitted that he received distributive amounts of methamphetamine from co-defendants Shirley J. Hicks, 63, of West Plains, and Luis Ortiz Rodriguez, 38, address unknown, both of whom have pleaded guilty and await sentencing. Gonzales then distributed methamphetamine to others.

When Gonzales was stopped by law enforcement officers on July 24, 2018, he was in possession of 76.1 grams of methamphetamine. Gonzales admitted that he had recently purchased methamphetamine from Hicks. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hicks’s residence on the same day. 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 bag of methamphetamine inside a blue waterproof box that contained 122.892 grams of pure methamphetamine. Officers also seized a total of $20,393, which Hicks admitted was proceeds from her distribution of methamphetamine.

On March 20, 2019, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the residence of Gonzales’s girlfriend, where they found a baggie that contained approximately 9.4 grams of methamphetamine, a baggie that contained approximately .15 grams of methamphetamine, a baggie that contained assorted pills, a baggie that contained a small amount of marijuana, several glass smoking devices, and a loaded Bersa .380-caliber pistol.

Gonzales is the fourth defendant sentenced in this case. 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. Fontella J. Noose, 40, of Springfield, Mo., was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole.

Co-defendants Shaun M. Ross, 43, and Raymon F. Ortega, 65, both of West Plains, and James Cooper, 54, of Mountain View, Mo., also have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Sarff. It was investigated by the South Central Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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.