Crime

Drug purchase in Independence turns into a rip-off

James D. Vaughn, 28, faces a federal firearms charge after allegedly stealing drug purchase money from an informant.
James D. Vaughn, 28, faces a federal firearms charge after allegedly stealing drug purchase money from an informant. KRT

An informant for a Jackson County drug squad got an intimate look at the muzzle of a 12-gauge shotgun recently during a methamphetamine purchase for undercover officers.

The man behind the shotgun now faces a federal gun charge and was ordered held without bond Thursday, court records show.

Working with officers on the Jackson County Drug Task Force, the informant agreed to purchase $900 worth of methamphetamine from James D. Vaughn, 28, who several years ago pleaded guilty to car theft and felony drug charges, court records showed.

After speaking with Vaughn by telephone a couple of times Feb. 12, the informant and an undercover investigator found themselves outside a motel off South Noland Road, just north of Interstate 70.

While the undercover officer waited in the car, Vaughn purportedly appeared at a side motel entrance and led the informant to a first-floor room.

The informant showed the money to Vaughn, who ducked into the bathroom and emerged with a shotgun, court records said.

Vaughn ripped the money away and menacingly pointed the weapon at the informant.

He ordered the informant onto the bed. Then, not waiting for a response, Vaughn threw the informant on the bed, wrapped the shotgun in some blue jeans and left.

A second man emerged from the bathroom, headed to the door and told the informant, “I’m sorry,” as he scuttled out.

Surveillance tape showed Vaughn and the second man heading up some stairs to a second motel room, where they met two women. There, the second man told one of the women that Vaughn had just committed a robbery over “dope,” court records said.

Officers arrested the group as they left the room. Searches turned up the shotgun, drug paraphernalia and the stolen money.

Federal prosecutors charged Vaughn with being a felon in possession of a firearm. A judge ordered Vaughn held without bond, finding that he was a danger to the community.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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