The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

August 5, 2013

Feds indict alleged Joplin meth ring with ties to Mexico

— A federal grand jury today indicted 21 defendants, including six members of one Joplin family, in an alleged conspiracy to import high-quality methamphetamine from Mexico and distribute the drug in Jasper County.

Gerardo Hernandez Cazares Sr., and his wife, Leticia Cazares, both 51, and their four sons, Jose D. Cazares, 28; Gerardo Cazares Jr., 29; Eric E. Cazares, 30; and Abraham Cazares, 24, are accused, along with 15 others, of conspiring to distribute meth between July 16, 2012, and June 14, 2013.

The others indicted include Joplin residents Gilbert Roland, 49; David Roland, 32; Casey Murray, 19; Charles J. Lee III, 29; James Pickel, 55; Michael Fordyce, 52; Michael Ray Hendrix, 33; Jimmy Don Thompson, 22; Nathan K. Hernandez, 33; Jorge Ercules, 27; Henry Gonzalez, 31, and Hugo Rodriguez, 41.

Leticia Cazares is a citizen of Mexico and permanent legal resident of the U.S. Ercules is a citizen of Honduras, and Gonzalez and Rodriguez are citizens of Mexico, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.

Also named in the 34-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury July 24 were Daniel Nevarez, 27, Gerardo Cazares’ son-in-law who lives in Carl Junction; Gabrielle Sharp, 20, of Springfield; Jose Puente, 41, of Commerce, Okla.

Besides the conspiracy charges, Gerardo Cazares Sr., Gerardo Cazares Jr., Jose Cazares, Hendrix, Pickel, Ercules and Gonzalez are charged in 22 counts related to distribution of meth. Gerardo Cazares Sr., Gerardo Cazares Jr., Jose Cazares, Eric Cazares, Leticia Cazares, Hendrix, Pickel, Sharp, Thompson, Hernandez, Rodriguez and Lee also face 11 counts related to use of a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking.

Jose Cazares has been facing a count of second-degree murder in state court in Jasper County related to the 2006 shooting death of a Duenweg man in Joplin. He was on the run for 4 1/2 years before being captured in Brownsville, Texas, in January 2011, and brought back to Missouri to face the charge.

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Missouri Republicans are considering a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing laws the state considers to be infringements on gun rights: barring them from future careers in state law enforcement agencies. Do you think this proposal has merit?

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