DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Missouri

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 11, 2024
Teresa A. Moore
, United States Attorney

Jury Convicts Springfield Man of Drug Trafficking, Illegal Firearms

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield man has been convicted in federal court of his role in a conspiracy to distribute valeryl fentanyl, which is an analogue of fentanyl, and illegally possessing several firearms.

Darrell L. Smith, 34, was found guilty at trial of one count of conspiracy to distribute a fentanyl analogue known as valeryl fentanyl, one count of possessing a fentanyl analogue with the intent to distribute and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Co-defendant Eugene C. Saunders, 50, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and was sentenced on Aug. 1, 2023, to three years in federal prison without parole.

In August 2019, law enforcement learned that Smith and Saunders were selling “heroin” (later determined to be valeryl fentanyl) together in Springfield and that Saunders stored his “heroin” at Smith’s residence. Smith and Saunders often packaged “heroin” together at Smith’s residence.

On Aug. 15, 2019, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Smith’s residence. Officers seized a large plastic bag that contained valeryl fentanyl and 30 individually packaged sandwich bags of valeryl fentanyl.

In plain view on a table in the living room near the bags of valeryl fentanyl, officers found a loaded magazine for a 9mm pistol. Officers found body armor and seven loaded firearms – including a Smith & Wesson .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a North American Arms .22-caliber revolver, a Mossberg 20-gauge pump shotgun, a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun – in an upstairs bedroom. Three of these firearms were located in plain view on a dresser and two shotguns were leaned up against a wall. An eighth firearm was found in a secondary bedroom, where Smith had been located when the warrant was executed. This firearm, a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol, was located underneath a couch cushion on a child’s bed.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield deliberated for less than four hours on Wednesday, Jan. 10, before returning guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, ending a trial that began Monday, Jan. 8.

Under federal statutes, Smith 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.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica R. Eatmon and John D. Hatcher. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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Kansas City Field Division