WICHITA, KAN. – A federal jury convicted two Wichita men on charges related to an inmate-run drug trafficking ring headquartered from a prison cell in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Following the presentation of court documents and evidence at trial, a jury found Kevin Lewis, 58, and Travis Vontress, 45, guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to distribute cocaine powder, maintaining drug involved premises, and unlawful use of a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking,
A jury also convicted Lewis of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Vontress was also found guilty of possession with intent to distribute powder cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Both men are scheduled for sentencing June 22.
Twenty-one defendants pled guilty to charges related to this case. They include Travis Knighten, 49, and Armando Luna, 43, both inmates at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Knighten served as the brains of the operation and while in prison, used cell phones to direct co-conspirators in Wichita in the distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and other illicit drugs. Knighten is serving a 90-year sentence for killing a prison guard in 1993. The other defendants, all of Wichita, are Richard Adams, 29, David Bell, 48, Frederick Collins, 49, Byron Fitchpatrick, 47, Eric Goodwin, 55, Dorzee Hill, 42, Santoria Hill, 53, Orlando Hogan, 46, Derek Hubbard, 46, Mario Ponds, 41, Otis Ponds, 43, Robert Richmond, 50, Kimberly Schmidtberger, 40, Shamtus Smallwood, 48, Kevin Walker, 56, Tia Ward, 42, Eddie Washington, 62, Trevor Wells, 41, and Dallas Williams, 40.
“This sophisticated criminal organization went to great lengths to conceal their illegal activities from law enforcement such as using code words for various narcotics and street names instead of actual names. These court convictions show that as criminals work to evade the law, there are prosecutors and law enforcement agencies working just as hard to bring them to justice,” said Duston Slinkard, U.S. Attorney – District of Kansas.
The FBI, Wichita Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Barton County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Postal Service, Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Marshall Service, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the Nebraska State Patrol investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie Andrusak prosecuted the case.