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Operation Snowplow cases wrapping up
Confiscated pickup brought $3,800
Murel Dean Amador

Last October, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office reported multiple law-enforcement agencies had broken up a large drug ring with a series of raids known as Operation Snowplow. Of the seven people arrested on Oct. 1, 2018, only one, Kennedy Christine Beakey, is still awaiting a day in court.

Beakey and Iban Martinez-Enriquez were both charged in U.S. District Court in Wichita where Martinez-Enriquez recently entered a “guilty” plea to possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and to using said firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime. (See “Operation Snowplow yields guilty plea” in the Aug. 22 Great Bend Tribune.) Beakey will appear in U.S. District Court on Sept. 6 and is expected to enter a new plea.

With seven people in custody last October, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said he would ask the U.S. Attorney’s office to help with some of the cases. Charges ranged from distribution of methamphetamine and other illegal substances to possession of drugs and paraphernalia.

One suspect, Vincente Espino, 51 was released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Oct. 5, 2018. The other cases have gone through Barton County District Court. Espino had been booked on Oct. 1 on charges of distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of cocaine, distribution of heroin, distribution of fentanyl, distribution of LSD and distribution of marijuana.

Bellendir said the county also seized at 2008 Chevrolet Silverado that belonged to Martinez-Enriquez and obtained ownership of the vehicle. It was sold at the Barton County Surplus Auction on Aug. 22 for $3,800.

The BSCO is also working to obtain ownership of a piece of ground owned by one of the defendants, but that case is still in the court system, Bellendir said.

Other cases

Here is the outcome of other cases from Operation Snowplow:

- Pedro Garcia, charged with possession of cocaine and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, was granted a diversion last May.

- Miguel Gonzalez, charged with possession of cocaine and eight other counts, entered a plea of guilty in June to unlawful possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a firearm. In exchange for his plea, other charges were dropped. His sentencing was scheduled for this month but there is no record of it in Barton County District Court. Court documents do show that prosecution and defense would jointly recommend 36 months of probation. The state also dismissed two other criminal cases from 2018 and two traffic cases — one from 2018 and one from 2019.

- Candice Johnson, charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia, entered a plea of no contest last November to drug possession and the other charge was dismissed. She was sentenced to 17 months in prison and granted 12 months of intensive probation.

- Murel Dean Amador was not arrested at the same time as the others on Oct. 1, 2018, but he turned himself in later that day. He was charged with crimes that allegedly occurred earlier, on Aug. 13, 2018. Originally charged with possession of meth with intent to distribute and not possessing a drug tax stamp, he entered a guilty plea to an amended charge of possession of methamphetamine and in exchange the state dismissed the second count.

Amador is 64 years old and has previous drug convictions in Barton County from the 1980s that expired more than a decade ago. That will be taken into account and on Aug. 8 he was sentenced to 20 months in custody of the Department of Corrections, but he may go to Community Corrections. His probation has been stayed pending federal cases; he was released to the custody of U.S. Marshals on Aug. 12.