Task force arrests 18, seizes meth labs and recovers multiple stolen vehicles

JOPLIN, MO. - A spike in vehicle thefts during March prompt area law enforcement to join forces and take on repeat criminals.

Authorities say the results of the task force include:

Plus, numerous leads may result on future charges against the individuals arrested and others.


Short-term task force formed

"Tristate Task Force Against an Increase in Crime" is an investigations unit comprised of eight agencies from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Joplin police say the task force was needed after they noticed a sudden 250% increase in vehicle thefts during March.

Police noticed many of the criminals associated with these crimes had also commited crimes in the tri-state area.

Besides criminals already arrested, county, state and city police are now teaming up to put other repeat offenders behind bars.

"We decided that it would be a good idea to develop a short term task force to go out and identify exactly, for sure, that these are the people doing it, building good cases on them, get evidence against them, put good solid cases together for the prosecutor's office to be able to prosecute these people," says Lt. Mike Hobson of the Joplin Police Department.

Right now the Tri-State Task Force is only a short-term because it was developed to combact an unusual spike in crime.

However, the task force will be brought back into action once another increase occurs.


Notes on arrests and criminal activities investigated by task force

Shawn D. Burrows of Baxter Springs, Kansas

Megan J. Briggs of Baxter Springs, Kansas

Adam G. Gustafson of Joplin, Missouri

Chad R. Skelton of Joplin Missouri

Sarah E. Hibbert, 122 N. Maple Joplin Missouri

Johnny R. Goodwin of Quapaw, Oklahoma

Steven W. Mortell of  Brookline, Missouri

Michael G. Alexander of Joplin, Missouri

Robert L. Sneed of Joplin, Missouri

Gregory L. Sanders of Joplin, Missouri

Christy L. Sweet of Joplin, Missouri

Blake Gandy of Galena, Kansas

Randy J. Beckett of Joplin, Missouri

Scotty G. Brown of Joplin, Missouri

Thomas P. Webb of Joplin, Missouri

Cody Schulz of Joplin, Missouri

Taken into custody before the task force was formed, but also involved in crime increase:

Matthew K. Putnam of Joplin, Missouri

Daniel R. Hylton of Joplin, Missouri


Member agencies of the task force included:

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