Twelve Area Residents Indicted in Fentanyl Conspiracy

by Don Ledford

A dozen Springfield, Missouri-area residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in Greene County.

James D. Collins, also known as “Red,” 46, of Battlefield, Missouri; Darryl Turner, also known as “D,” 56, Bobby G. Rost also known as “Pop,” 62, Elmer E. Freeman Jr., also known as “Duck,” 53, Rufus H. Jones, also known as “Shorty,” 69, Jerry D. Pierson, also known as “Pops,” 73, Tia M. Melton, 48, Christopher D. Hoskin, 27, Robert D. Huddleston, 46, Heather R. Kinnison, 28, Salvador Sepulveda, 46, and Trenton J. Davis, 19, all of Springfield, Missouri, were charged in a 19-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Wednesday, June 10. That indictment was unsealed and made public following the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.

The federal indictment alleges that 10 defendants (with the exceptions of Melton and Davis) participated in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in Greene County from Jan. 31, 2019, to May 18, 2020.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, the indictment alleges that Collins and Melton engaged in a money-laundering conspiracy that involved financial transactions of the proceeds of the fentanyl distribution. Collins and Melton are also charged together in one count of being felons in possession of a firearm. They allegedly were in possession of a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber pistol on April 20, 2020.

Collins is also charged with one count of money laundering, one count of possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Collins allegedly was in possession of a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber pistol on April 20, 2020.

Freeman is charged with two counts related to the distribution of fentanyl, one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Freeman allegedly was in possession of a Davis Industries .380-caliber handgun on April 20, 2020.

Pierson is also charged with one count of possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute, one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Pierson allegedly was in possession of a Berasaluze 7.65-caliber pistol on Feb. 7, 2020.

Hoskin, Jones, Sepulveda, Turner, and Kinnison are each charged with possessing or distributing fentanyl. Davis is charged with one count of managing a premises that he made available for illegal drug trafficking.

The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property obtained through the alleged drug-trafficking conspiracy, including $16,880 seized from Rost by law enforcement officers on Feb. 6, 2020.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

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