Two people were arrested and a large amount of methamphetamine and cash were seized in a joint operation of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team (ODET) and federal authorities.

Two people were arrested and a large amount of methamphetamine and cash were seized in a joint operation of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team (ODET) and federal authorities.
Justin Thurston, 33, and Sergio Diaz-Ontiveros, 30, both are charged by the United States District Court Western District of Missouri with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Colleen Peery, ODET received information from three different sources that Thurston was a pound level methamphetamine dealer in the Joplin metro area.
About 1 p.m. Thursday, Peery said that agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), ATF and ODET executed a search warrant involving the Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) of Katie Stein on a Carthage residence where about a half ounce of methamphetamine was seized.
A cooperating defendant revealed he was receiving the drugs from Stein’s DTO and from Thurston; and a phone call revealed Thurston was at the Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Oklahoma.
Tribal Police were called and before apprehending Thurston, a drug-sniffing dog alerted on his vehicle in the parking lot. A search of the vehicle turned up four ounces of methamphetamine and he was taken into custody.
Thurston said his source was staying at the Microtel Hotel in Joplin and agents identified the room in which Ontiveros was staying. A drug sniffing canine alerted on his vehicle, and while waiting for a state search warrant to be signed agents were alerted that Thurston had bonded out of the Ottawa County, Oklahoma jail.

Fearing the possible destruction of evidence by Thurston possibly tipping off Ontiveros, Newton County Prosecutor Jake Skouby directed agents to secure the room and detain the occupant until a warrant could be obtained.

Upon serving the warrant, agents seized three pounds of methamphetamine, about $10,000 in cash, and a loaded 9 mm Baretta pistol.

Ontiveros was taken to the Newton County Jail where he told agents he is paid $500 a pound to “babysit” the methamphetamine. He said he was asked to keep 25 pounds but did not feel comfortable and agreed to deliver only five pounds. He said he had sold two pounds the night before.

Ontiveros said that an unknown white male delivers the methamphetamine to him at a chosen hotel, and he then waits for an unknown Mexican male located in Las Vegas, Nevada to call him to let him know who will be coming by to pick up the drugs and how much they should receive.

He said that the unknown Mexican called Wednesday night to tell him that an individual would come by the room to pick up $20,000, which he gave him. He told authorities he was scheduled to return to Las Vegas Friday to give the unknown Mexican male the money he had obtained.

Both Thurston and Diaz-Ontiveros are free on bond.