SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A man from West Plains was sentenced in federal court March 7 for leading a conspiracy that distributed 360 kilograms of meth over a three-year period.

James W. Fithen, Jr., 38, got 28 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Fithen to pay a $3.6 million judgment.

According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, Fithen pleaded guilty in March 2022 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of aiding and abetting the attempted possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

The release states Fithen got the drugs from Mexico and supplied them to co-defendants Patrick A. Dodson, 42, and Samuel L. Pyatt, 47. Dodson and Pyatt distributed the drugs to others from Feb. 2017 to Feb. 2020.

Fithen was arrested in 2020 when he was intercepted by law enforcement in Arkansas as he returned from buying drugs in Texas. Officers found 2.5 kilograms of meth in the back seat of the car.

According to court documents, law enforcement found over 4.5 kilograms of methamphetamine from Fithen’s conspirators during their investigation. The investigation further revealed that Fithen and his organization sold between 10 and 20 kilograms of methamphetamine, earning approximately $100,000 monthly.

Fithen is one of 13 defendants in this case.