US Attorney: Man Ran Kansas Drug Ring from Oklahoma Prison Cell

Mar 5, 2020

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man serving a 90-year sentence for participating in the 1993 murder of a Kansas corrections officer is charged in a 55-count federal indictment with running a drug ring from his Oklahoma prison cell.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release Wednesday that 47-year-old Travis Knighten was the brains behind a criminal organization that distributed methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine powder, crack cocaine and marijuana in Wichita. No attorney is listed for Knighten in online court records.

Prosecutors said he used cell phones that he obtained while in custody to direct the movements of almost two dozen conspirators, including a fellow inmate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. The conspirators also maintained five properties in Wichita as stash houses for processing and storing drugs, the release said.

Although incarcerated in Oklahoma, Knighten is still under the authority of the Kansas Department of Corrections. His conviction stemmed from disturbance at the Lansing Correctional Facility in which Officer Mark Avery died and another officer were severely injured when they were hit in the head with weights.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has tried to crack down on contraband cellphones inside state prisons. Since 2011, prison officials in Oklahoma have seized more than 48,500 prohibited cellphones.