U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri
(816) 426-3122
January 28, 2015

Joplin Man Sentenced to 22 Years for Meth Conspiracy, Firearms Violations

SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Joplin, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine in Jasper County, Mo., and for illegally possessing firearms.

Jose DeLeon Cazares, 29, of Joplin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 22 years in federal prison without parole.

On Aug. 5, 2014, Cazares pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from July 16, 2012, to June 14, 2013, and to possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Law enforcement authorities noticed a significant increase in the availability of methamphetamine in the Joplin area beginning in June 2012. A confidential source stated there was a drug-trafficking organization in Joplin that was importing very pure methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States, then transporting it by automobile to Joplin.

Cazares admitted that he was the local leader of the drug-trafficking organization. Starting in July 2012, federal and local agents conducted numerous undercover buys with various co-defendants in this conspiracy.

A cooperator told law enforcement investigators that he traded stolen firearms and other stolen items to Cazares in return for methamphetamine. He stated that he had traded 10-to-12 firearms to Cazares between September 2012 and July 2013. Cazares gave him between one to one-and-a-half grams of methamphetamine per firearm. Cazares then took the firearms to Mexico. He also traded stolen flat-screen TV’s, power tools and computer items (like laptops and Ipads) to Cazares for methamphetamine.

On June 14, 2013, members of the Joplin Police Department SWAT team and members of various federal agencies entered Cazares’s home. They found a box of Winchester 20-gauge 2-3/4-inch rifled slug hollow point ammunition in the bedroom. Cazares was under state charges at the time and prohibited from receiving and possessing ammunition. Officers also found a drug ledger in the living room on the television stand, and multiple Moneygram receipts in his vehicle.

His mother and father, Gerardo Hernandez Cazares, Sr., 53, and Leticia Cazares, 53, as well as his brothers, Gerardo Cazares Jr., 30, and Eric Eziquel Cazares, 32, all of Joplin, are among the co-defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Jasper County Drug Task Force, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the Miami, Okla., Police Department.

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