Oscar Antonio Valenzuela of California, who admitted transporting methamphetamine to Billings for distribution in Montana, was sentenced in federal court in Billings on Tuesday today to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a news release that Valenzuela, 27 years old, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth.
The prosecution said in court records that Valenzuela was among a group of couriers who brought meth from Mexico to Billings in 2017 and 2018. Investigators learned of Valenzuela in early 2017 when they received cell phone records from phones seized from individuals distributing meth in Montana.
A search warrant on a phone seized from a cooperating distributor showed months of text messages between the distributor and Valenzuela about transporting meth to Billings. The distributor also identified Valenzuela as the driver of a car that brought 20 pounds of meth to Billings.
Twenty pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 72,480 doses and has a street value of about $150,000, according to prosecutors. Other witnesses involved in meth trafficking identified or provided information about Valenzuela.
After sentencing, Valenzuela was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI Transnational Organized Crime West task force.