The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

October 18, 2013

Large meth haul tracked to Monett

The discovery Oct. 11 of 30 pounds or more of methamphetamine concealed in a vehicle on a car hauler at a truck stop in Oklahoma City led to the arrest of six suspects in Monett when the vehicle was delivered.

Two of those men, Jaime Gonzalez-Alvarado, 32, and Camilo Acosta Jr., 20, were charged this week in U.S. District Court in Springfield with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Canadian County sheriff’s deputies conducting routine surveillance of truck stops became suspicious of a 2004 Ford Explorer loaded at the back of a vehicle hauler parked at a TA Truck Stop on Morgan Road near Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City.

According to a probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges against Gonzalez-Alvarado and Acosta, the driver of the hauler had presented paperwork showing the vehicle was picked up from “Armando” in Huntington Park, Calif., and was to be delivered to “Ernie” in Monett. But it was registered to a third man in Denver.

Underneath the rear flooring of the Explorer, deputies discovered a concealed compartment containing 15 bundles of meth.

The shipment was estimated by Oklahoma authorities at almost 43 pounds with a street value of $2.3 million. But the affidavit later filed by a  Drug Enforcement Administration agent estimated the weight at about 30 pounds.

The DEA office in Springfield was contacted and obtained a warrant to track the driver and his load to Monett. The bulk of the meth was removed from the vehicle and the driver and his truck were brought to Joplin, where a tracking device was installed. He was then sent on to Monett to make the planned delivery.

He was met in Lowe’s parking lot in Monett by a man who paid him $800 in exchange for the keys to the Explorer. The man drove off with the DEA and the Missouri State Highway Patrol tracking him both by airplane and unmarked vehicles, according to the affidavit.

They followed him to an address on Walnut Street in Monett where they served a search warrant the same day, seizing $33,000 in cash, a handgun, 3.5 grams of meth and a ledger containing names, telephone numbers and currency figures.

Five men were arrested at the residence in addition to the driver of the car hauler. The affidavit alleges that Gonzalez-Alvarado and Acosta were determined to be the suspects in charge of the operation in Monett.

Court documents do not make clear what the current legal status is of the driver or the three other mean arrested at the house.

In custody

Two men arrested a week ago in Monett remained in federal custody Friday after preliminary and detention hearings in U.S. District Court in Springfield. They are charged with being on the receiving end of a shipment of more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine.

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