Jury convicts Joplin man of meth trafficking, illegal firearms

A Joplin, Missouri, man has been convicted by a federal jury of illegally possessing methamphetamine and firearms.

Ty Cole Kitchingham, 24, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

On July 19, 2018, a postal inspector alerted other law enforcement authorities to a suspicious package that had been shipped from Long Beach, California, to a Joplin residence. The parcel included a shipping address that did not exist and a recipient’s address in Joplin that appeared to be an abandoned home. The package had been checked through the U.S. Postal Service mail tracking system four times during the day. A police support canine indicated the package contained illegal drugs.

The next day, officers conducted a controlled delivery of the package to the vacant Joplin residence. Within 15 to 20 minutes of the package being checked again through the mail tracking system, Kitchingham arrived in a Ford Ranger pickup and parked near the residence. Kitchingham walked up to the porch and picked up the package, which he carried back to his vehicle. As Kitchingham got to the driver’s side door, he saw the officers approaching. Kitchingham ran with the box down an alleyway between two houses. As officers chased him, Kitchingham dropped the box and continued running.

Officers lost sight of Kitchingham and requested a manhunt. A county sheriff support canine was called to help track. Officers found Kitchingham inside a small shed in the back yard of a nearby home, and he was taken into custody.

Officers opened the package Kitchingham had dropped, which contained a toy lawnmower. Inside the toy lawnmower was 336.9 grams of methamphetamine. Officers also found a loaded Springfield Armory 9mm pistol and a loaded Beretta 9mm pistol inside Kitchingham’s pickup.

The jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for less than 30 minutes before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Tuesday, Nov. 5, ending a trial that began Monday, Nov. 4.

Under federal statutes, Kitchingham could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull II and Special U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Keller. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Ozark Drug Enforcement Team, Jasper County Sheriff Office, Joplin, Mo., Police Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.


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