Springfield, Mo. -- (3/8/2018) A Mexican national was sentenced in federal court on Thursday for his role in a drug-trafficking conspiracy that resulted in the murder of a co-conspirator.
23-year-old Yovanny Aroldo Mendivil-Balderama was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison without parole.
On Oct. 16, 2017, Mendivil-Balderama pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County, Dallas County, Webster County and Christian County from April 28, 2015, to April 26, 2016. He also pleaded guilty to using a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, resulting in the murder of Oscar Adan Martinez-Gaxiola on April 25, 2016, in Webster County.
According to court documents, Mendivil-Balderama and Martinez-Gaxiola obtained large amounts of methamphetamine from either Arizona or Mexico and transported it to Missouri. They supplied methamphetamine to co-defendant Brooke Danielle Beckley, 21, of Nixa, for distribution in the Springfield area. Beckley, who pleaded guilty to the same charges, was sentenced on Feb. 26, 2018, to 40 years in federal prison without parole.
Beckley met Mendivil-Balderama and Martinez-Gaxiola in January 2016, and Beckley and Mendivil-Balderama started a sexual relationship shortly afterwards.
On April 6, 2016, law enforcement officers seized from Beckley’s hotel room approximately 1.9 kilograms of methamphetamine, a loaded 20-gauge shotgun with a sawed off barrel and stock, four rounds of additional shotgun ammunition, a .22-caliber pistol, a drug ledger and $3,662.
The loss of the 1.9 kilograms of methamphetamine created a $44,000 debt that Beckley owed to both Mendivil-Balderama and Martinez-Gaxiola. According to court documents, text messages between Mendivil-Balderama and Beckley revealed they both wanted to kill Martinez-Gaxiola as a way to reduce, or extend, the debt and to prevent Martinez-Gaxiola from possibly killing Beckley. Mendivil-Balderama suggested in a text to Beckley that he had “an idea of how we can do so you do not have to pay me everything.” Beckley, in a text on April 21, 2016, asked what he needed her to do. Mendivil-Balderama responded, “I just need someone to help me get rid of someone I need gone like now.” Subsequent text messages suggested that the person that needed to be “gone” was Martinez-Gaxiola.
Beckley then recruited co-defendant Anthony Edward Donovan, 21, of Springfield to assist in killing Martinez-Gaxiola, and offered to pay him $6,000. Donovan recruited co-defendant Nathaniel Austin Lee, 20, of Seymour to assist in the murder and allow for the use of Lee’s property in rural Webster County in exchange for part of the $6,000. Lee then recruited Joshua Applegate who was a minor under federal law at the time of the offense, and therefore charged as an adult in state court rather than in the federal indictment.
On April 24, 2016, Beckley, Donovan and Lee practiced for the murder of Martinez-Gaxiola by discharging various firearms at the Lee residence. On April 25, 2016, Mendivil-Balderama traveled with Martinez-Gaxiola to the Lee residence on the pretext that Beckley would pay the drug debt. Beckley, Donovan, Lee and Applegate were waiting at the residence; Donovan and Lee were armed with handguns. Upon arrival, Mendivil-Balderama got out of the vehicle first. When Martinez-Gaxiola exited the vehicle, Donovan and Applegate opened fire and Martinez-Gaxiola fell to the ground. Eventually, Donovan went up to where Martinez-Gaxiola lay and shot him once in the head. Martinez-Gaxiola was armed with a handgun but did not discharge it during his murder.
Lee’s neighbors reported the shots fired at the residence (it is estimated that the co-conspirators expended 30 to 60 rounds of ammunition during the murder). Webster County deputies responded to the location. Hearing the emergency sirens, the co-conspirators attempted to conceal Martinez-Gaxiola under a piece of tin siding, and then fled area. When the deputies arrived, they found Martinez-Gaxiola, who was still alive but critically hurt and who died before transportation to the hospital. Law enforcement officers captured all the co-conspirators by the end of the day on April 25, 2016.
Donovan and Lee have pleaded guilty to the same charges and await sentencing. Co-defendant Jourdan Ashley McGinnis, 29, of Nixa, pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. McGinnis was sentenced on Dec. 18, 2017, to seven years and 10 months in federal prison without parole.