Springfield Man, Kenneth R. Friend, Pleads Guilty to Meth Conspiracy

SPRINGFIELD, MO (STL.News) – A Springfield, Missouri man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a conspiracy that distributed 45 kilograms of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri.

Kenneth R. Friend, 48, of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool on Friday, 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.  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.

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. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Friend must forfeit the cash and the motorcycle to the government.

Friend is among 29 defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case; 27 of those defendants have been sentenced.

Under federal statutes, Friend is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.