For Immediate Release
Springfield Man Sentenced to 35 Years for Fentanyl Conspiracy, Illegal Firearms
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield man has been sentenced in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and for illegally possessing firearms.
Jerry Wheeler, aka “Love,” 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Nov. 21 to 35 years in federal prison without parole.
On Dec. 15, 2022, Wheeler pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
Wheeler admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in Christian and Greene counties from Sept. 23, 2018, to Nov. 14, 2019. Wheeler was a supplier of fentanyl to a number of other fentanyl distributors in Springfield. Wheeler also admitted that he was in possession of a Sig Sauer .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol, an Izmash .308-caliber semi-automatic rifle and a Hi-Point 9mm semi-automatic pistol in furtherance of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
According to court documents, Wheeler was responsible for multi-kilogram fentanyl distribution. Often, the fentanyl was sold as heroin.
Law enforcement officers stopped co-defendant Sheron Loggins, aka “Bane,” 50, of Florissant while he was driving on Interstate 44 toward Springfield on Sept. 8, 2019. Loggins was transporting approximately 496 grams of fentanyl (which represents over 4,000 potentially lethal doses of fentanyl). Wheeler admitted that he was the intended recipient of that fentanyl and that he intended to distribute the fentanyl in Springfield.
On Nov. 14, 2019, federal law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Wheeler’s residence. Officers found the loaded Sig Sauer pistol on top of a cabinet in the kitchen. Agents found the loaded Hi-Point pistol in a nightstand drawer in one bedroom and the Izhmash rifle underneath a mattress in another bedroom. Agents also found a small amount of cocaine and fentanyl, as well as drug paraphernalia.
According to court documents, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that Missouri was one of only nine states west of the Mississippi River with an age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths of more than 21.1 per 100,000 in 2020. The most recent statistics provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show that, in 2022, 1,577 Missourians fatally overdosed on opioids. This means that one in every 45 deaths in Missouri in 2022 can be attributed to an opioid overdose, and potent non-heroin opioids such as fentanyl have increasingly taken over as the primary killer.
Court documents also cite a widely reported analysis of CDC data by Families Against Fentanyl that fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death among adults between ages 18 and 45 in the U.S.
Wheeler is the second of 14 defendants to be sentenced in this case. Marquise D. Martin, 33, of Springfield, was sentenced on June 14, 2023, to 12 years in federal prison without parole. Loggins has pleaded guilty to participating in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and awaits sentencing.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron H. Black. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Springfield Police Department; the Greene County Sheriff’s Department; the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department; the Bourbon Police Department; and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
This case is part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic or national security of the United States.