SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — [Update: 4:06 p.m. December 1st] A man from Arizona, 38-year-old Michael P. Ayala, pleaded guilty to both meth trafficking and money-laundering as well as possession of a firearm.
David M. Climer, 37, of Springfield, Missouri has also pled guilty and awaits sentencing.
[Previous Story: November 30] A woman from Springfield has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for a meth and money-laundering conspiracy.
According to U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson, the woman, 53-year-old Ronda L. Easton of Springfield, pleaded guilty to distributing large amounts of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in a drug-trafficking crime, and participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.
Easton is one of eight co-defendants to plead guilty. Six of those – Michael P. Ayala, 38, Steven A. Easton, 49, James M. Parker, 46, Robert M. Cardenas, Jr., 28, Cody D. Keller, 34, and David M. Climer, 37 – are residents of Springfield. One man – 58-year-old Michael D. Thompson – is from Arizona.
Ronda Easton admitted to distributing large amounts of meth she purchased from Ayala, paying Ayala $9,000 per pound of the drug and selling it for $12,000 per pound, sometimes receiving up to ten pounds at a time.
Ayala admitted to supplying Steven Easton with meth for distribution until Ronda was released from state prison. Once released, Ronda took over the operation in Springfield.
The methamphetamine arrived by mail and was transported to Arizona. During the transactions, Ronda sold pound quantities to Parker, Keller, and Climer. Thompson and Cardenas would then deliver the meth from Missouri to Arizona.
In April 2015, law enforcement stopped a Jeep Commander occupied by Cardenas and Thompson and seized 14.5 pounds of meth inside the vehicle’s compartment and 2,228 grams of meth hidden inside a luggage bag. Cardenas admitted Ayala paid him $1,700 to drive the vehicle from Arizona to Springfield.
Ayala was arrested the next day in a traffic stop where officers found a 9mm semi-automatic, ammunitions, syringes, and $19,231 dollars inside the vehicle.
Officers also searched a residence shared by Ayala and Ronda Easton where they seized four large Tupperware containers containing 1.5 kilograms of pure methamphetamine, a black briefcase filled with baggies of meth and $1,520 dollars along with multiple guns and another $14,779 dollars in a purse.
Ayala and Ronda Easton admitted the profits were from methamphetamine distribution and used to buy assets such as residential property and a 2012 Ford Mustang.
They have been ordered to forfeit both vehicles, the residential property, firearms, ammunition, and cash to the government.