A Springfield man was sentenced in federal court Monday, Sept. 20, for his role in a conspiracy that distributed 45 kilograms of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri, including Polk County.

According to the office of the U.S. Attorney, Western District of 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 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, the office said.

Friend also pleaded guilty to money laundering by engaging in monetary transactions to promote unlawful activity, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release.

History of the case

Beginning in 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted by other agencies, investigated “one of the largest methamphetamine distribution rings in southwest Missouri,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The investigation resulted in the indictment of 29 defendants. Friend is among 28 defendants who pleaded guilty in this case and have been sentenced, the office said.

During the conspiracy, “Friend obtained large amounts of methamphetamine from various sources,” the U.S. Attorney’s office added. In one instance, Friend paid $20,000 in early November 2014 for 2 pounds of methamphetamine.

He also intended to purchase “a large amount” of methamphetamine from one of his sources on Nov. 27, 2014, the office said. 

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, the office said. 

Friend admitted that he intended to purchase at least 2 of the 5.5 pounds seized from this source of supply, the office said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said agents also seized $34,310 from Friend, which he had intended to use to purchase the 2 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as his 1992 Harley Davidson motorcycle, which he used to distribute methamphetamine and which he purchased with proceeds from the sale of meth.

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 Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

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