SPRINGFIELD, MO. — A Joplin man has been convicted by a jury on federal charges of illegally possessing methamphetamine and firearms.

A jury deliberated less than 30 minutes Tuesday in U.S. District Court at Springfield in finding Ty Cole Kitchingham, 24, guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing firearms in connection with a drug trafficking crime.

Kitchingham could face a sentence of 15 years to life. The sentence will be determined by the court based on sentencing guidelines and the results of a pre-sentence background report to be completed by the U.S. Probation Office, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Federal authorities said an investigation began on July 19 when a postal inspector alerted other law enforcement authorities to a suspicious package that had been shipped from Long Beach, California, to a Joplin residence. The parcel included a shipping address that did not exist and a recipient’s address in Joplin that appeared to be an abandoned home. The package had been checked through the U.S. Postal Service mail tracking system four times during the day. A police dog had indicated the package contained illegal drugs.

The next day, officers delivered the package to the vacant Joplin residence. Within 15 to 20 minutes of the package being checked again through the mail tracking system, Kitchingham arrived in a Ford Ranger pickup and parked near the residence. Kitchingham walked up to the porch and picked up the package, which he carried back to his vehicle. As Kitchingham got to the driver’s side door, he saw the officers approaching. He ran with the box down an alley between two houses. As officers chased him, Kitchingham dropped the box and continued running.

Officers lost sight of Kitchingham and requested a manhunt. A Jasper County Sheriff's Department canine was called to help track the man. Officers found Kitchingham inside a small shed in the backyard of a nearby residence and arrested him.

Inside the package Kitchingham dropped, officers found a toy lawn mower. Inside the toy, they found 12 ounces of methamphetamine, according to the U.S. attorney. Officers also found a loaded Springfield Armory 9 mm pistol and a loaded Beretta 9 mm pistol inside Kitchingham’s pickup, federal authorities said.

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