Trafficker of meth in Southwest Missouri handed federal prison time

Apr. 23—SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Tulsa, Oklahoma, man nabbed delivering 22 pounds of pure methamphetamine to a resident of Aurora for distribution in Southwest Missouri has been sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison without parole.

Judge M. Douglas Harpool assessed Jeffrey L. Hughley, 39, the prison time at a sentencing hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield. Hughley pleaded guilty Nov. 26 to conspiring to distribute meth and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release announcing the sentencing that Hughley admitted acting as a courier between November 2020 and April 28, 2022, for distribution of meth in Jasper, Newton, Greene, Lawrence, Polk, Stone, Christian and Barry counties in Missouri.

He delivered more than 4.5 kilograms of pure meth to co-defendant Brian E. Hall, 46, of Aurora, over that time period, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Hughley was arrested on April 28, 2022, when he drove to Hall's residence with 22 pounds of pure meth in garbage bags in the trunk of his Toyota Camry. A loaded 9 mm handgun also was found on a floorboard of the car.

The arrest came after local, state and federal law enforcement officers had executed a search warrant on Hall's home and seized seven pounds of meth, $57,000 in cash and another 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.

The U.S. attorney's office said a co-conspirator told investigators that Hughley had delivered large quantities of meth to Hall's residence on at least four occasions, picking up cash in return from Hall each time.

Hughley is believed to have been making similar trips to several states to deliver meth for which he was paid thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. attorney's office. The month he was arrested, he had purchased a drone for $5,730 for a leader of the trafficking organization that Hughley and another conspirator had discussed using to smuggle contraband into a prison.

Hughley, who operated a business dubbed God's Gifted Athletes providing strength training to youth in Tulsa, is believed to have distributed enough meth in four trips to Barry County alone to have supplied four doses of the drug to every man, woman and child in the county.

Hughley is the second to be sentenced of 20 defendants in the case. Hall pleaded guilty March 22, 2023, and is still awaiting sentencing.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.