Springfield, Willard residents indicted in cocaine conspiracy


Date: May 14, 2024

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Springfield, MO — Three southwest Missouri residents are among five defendants indicted for their roles in a drug-trafficking conspiracy after federal agents seized 16 kilograms of cocaine while arresting two co-defendants in Texas.

Mario Jose Castillo of Springfield, Mo.; Christhian Eduardo Cruz-Pineda, a citizen of Honduras residing in Springfield; Johnathan David Emerson, a resident of Willard, Mo.; and Bryan Ramirez-Aguero, a citizen of Honduras, and Erika Martinez Hernandez, a citizen of Mexico, both residing in Grand Prairie, Texas, were charged in a 10-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield.

Today’s superseding indictment replaces an indictment returned on April 10, 2024. Today’s superseding indictment contains the same or similar charges as the original indictment, but increases the amount of cocaine allegedly distributed in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and lengthens the timeframe of the conspiracy to incorporate an additional drug seizure.

Federal agents arrested Ramirez-Aguero and Martinez Hernandez on April 11, 2024. At the time of their arrest for the original indictment, agents seized approximately 16 kilograms of cocaine and $145,123 from their residence. Today’s superseding indictment reflects that drug seizure.

The federal indictment alleges that all five of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine from Dec. 12, 2021, to April 11, 2024.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Castillo is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Castillo, Emerson and Martinez Hernandez are charged together in one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Castillo and Martinez Hernandez are charged together in one count of unlawfully using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Castillo and Emerson are charged together in one count of money laundering.

Emerson and Cruz-Pineda are charged together in one count of possessing 500 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Cruz-Pineda is charged with one count of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Eatmon. It was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI), Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.