Judge sentences man to prison for $1 million meth conspiracy

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A judge sentenced a Springfield, Mo., in federal court Wednesday for his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than $1 million worth of methamphetamine in southern Missouri and in the Kansas City, Mo., area.

Michael Ryan Nevatt, 29, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to 38 years and four months in federal prison without parole.

On April 6, 2018, Nevatt was found guilty at trial of all seven counts contained in a Nov. 17, 2016, federal indictment. Nevatt was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and three counts of money laundering.

Evidence introduced during the trial indicated that Nevatt participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from Jan. 1, 2014, to Nov. 17, 2016. Co-defendant Kenneth Lake, 57, of Strafford, Mo., was the original head of the organization, coordinating vehicle transport shipments of methamphetamine from a Mexican cartel source in Texas to Springfield. Conspirators in Springfield divided the methamphetamine for distribution to the Lebanon, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo., areas. Lake pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and was sentenced on May 1, 2018, to 12 years and six months in federal prison without parole.

Nevatt subsequently became the head of the organization. Nevatt and other conspirators made regular trips, and sometimes travelled several times a week, to pick up multiple-pound supplies of methamphetamine. For example, Nevatt traveled to Texas regularly to pick up 10 pounds of methamphetamine and bring it back to Springfield. Nevatt would later return to Texas with approximately $100,000 in cash to pay for it. On one occasion, Nevatt met sources in Dallas, Texas, to purchase 40 pounds of methamphetamine. Mexican sources also delivered multiple-pound shipments of methamphetamine by truck or car to Springfield. Nevatt was found responsible for over 200 pounds of methamphetamine.

Nevatt was stopped by Springfield police officers on one occasion while operating a motorcycle without a valid motorcycle endorsement or insurance. Officers seized $66,960 in the saddle bag of the motorcycle. On another occasion, Springfield police officers seized $97,390 from a hotel room rented in Nevatt’s name, which was occupied by his girlfriend and Lake. Oklahoma authorities seized more than $100,000 from Nevatt’s couriers over the course of the conspiracy. At Nevatt’s arrest, the Missouri State Highway Patrol seized approximately $40,000.

Nevatt is the final defendant to be sentenced among the 15 defendants charged in the indictment; 14 co-defendants pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashleigh Ragner. It was investigated by the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Central Oklahoma Metro Interdiction Team.