by Don Ledford
A Springfield, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy that distributed 45 kilograms of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri.
Kenneth R. Friend, 48, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 27 years in federal prison without parole.
Friend pleaded guilty on April 5, 2019, to participating in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene, Polk, Christian, Jasper, Laclede, and Webster Counties from June 1, 2013, through Nov. 29, 2014. Friend also pleaded guilty to money laundering by engaging in monetary transactions to promote unlawful activity.
Beginning in 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted by other agencies, investigated one of the largest methamphetamine distribution rings in southwest Missouri. The investigation resulted in the indictment of 29 defendants. Friend is among 28 defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case and have been sentenced.
Friend admitted the conspiracy was responsible for the distribution of more than 45 kilograms of methamphetamine.
During the conspiracy, Friend obtained large amounts of methamphetamine from various sources. For example, Friend paid one source $20,000 in early November 2014 for two pounds of methamphetamine. Friend also intended to purchase a large amount of methamphetamine from one of his sources on Nov. 27, 2014. As part of the investigation, law enforcement officers arrested Friend, his then-girlfriend and one of his suppliers. During the execution of a federal search warrant at the supplier’s residence in Springfield, agents found approximately $20,000 and approximately five and a half pounds of methamphetamine. Friend admitted that he intended to purchase at least two of the five and a half pounds seized from this source of supply. Agents also seized $34,310 from Friend, which he had intended to use to purchase the two pounds of methamphetamine.
Agents also seized Friend’s 1992 Harley Davidson motorcycle, which he used to distribute methamphetamine and which he purchased with proceeds from the sale of methamphetamine. Friend must forfeit the cash that was seized and the motorcycle to the government.
This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nhan D. Nguyen and Cynthia J. Hyde. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).