Federal Court Papers Show Elaborate Joplin Drug Ring Could Have - KOAM TV 7

Federal Court Papers Show Elaborate Joplin Drug Ring Could Have Ties To Las Vegas

Microtel Motel in Joplin Microtel Motel in Joplin
Justin Thurston Justin Thurston
Sergio Diaz-Ontiveros Sergio Diaz-Ontiveros
Joplin, MO -

Federal court records show law enforcement has broken-up an elaborate drug ring in Southwest Missouri.  Federal agents visited several locations in the Four State area, and the court documents show this case might be run out of Las Vegas.

Federal court documents show that members of the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team received information from three separate sources that Justin Thurston was a meth dealer known to distribute meth by the pound in the Joplin area.  Federal officials say a cooperating defendant from a drug bust in Carthage pointed his source of meth to Thurston.

Thurston was arrested after law enforcement officials say they found him at Downstream Casino with four ounces of meth in his car.  According to law enforcement, Thurston said his source of meth was a man named Pedro.

Court documents point to Pedro's real name as Sergio Diaz-Ontiveros.  He was staying at the Microtel Motel in Joplin in room 239.  A search warrant was obtained, and law enforcement officials say inside Sergio's room was a 9 mm pistol loaded with three rounds of ammunition, about three pounds of meth, and about $10,000 of U.S. currency.  Just before Sergio was taken to the Newton County jail, he said he didn't want to talk to law enforcement and that he wanted an attorney.  Sergio later changed that request.

In court documents, Sergio admits he was getting paid $500 a pound to babysit meth, with his source of the drug being an unknown man.

Sergio says a man in Las Vegas would call him to let him know who would be coming to the Microtel Motel to pick up the meth, and how much meth each person should receive.  Sergio says he was asked to keep 25 pounds of meth, but he felt more comfortable with only five pounds of the drug.

According to court documents, the man from Las Vegas arranged for someone to pick up $20,000 from Sergio's motel room, and Sergio was planning on later going to Las Vegas himself to hand-over more money he had gotten.

Court documents list a phone number for Sergio.  We tried calling that number, but an automated system said the phone number's voice mail has not been set-up.

According to law enforcement, Sergio said he wanted to speak with federal agents because he felt his life was in danger.

A federal prosecutor involved with this case says this criminal complaint will be presented to a grand jury, who will decide if there's enough evidence to return an indictment.

Justin Thurston has bonded-out of the Ottawa County jail, and the Newton County Sheriff's Office tells us Sergio Diaz-Ontiveros has been released to the U.S. Marshalls Office.

The federal prosecutor tells us he's not worried about Thurston being bonded-out.  He believes the government has enough resources to track Thurston down.

Click here for the federal court complaint.


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