Ruben Cota-becerra Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on Jun 11, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, RUBEN COTA-BECERRA, a 45-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute/distribution of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute/distribution of methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for September 16, 2009. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Ruben Cota-Becerra, using the false name of Carlos Perto Leon, was living in Billings and operating a cash only vehicle repair shop in the Lockwood area. Cota Becerra stored, weighed out and distributed methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, from this shop and other locations from late 2005 up to August 2007.
One of Cota-Becerra's main recipients of methamphetamine was Gary Gordon. Cota-Becerra was introduced to Gordon by John Bracy for the purpose of establishing a source of supply of methamphetamine for re-distribution.
From approximately November 2005 until November 2006, Cota-Becerra would provide Gary Gordon with multiple ounce quantities of methamphetamine for re-distribution. Cota-Becerra would generally place the methamphetamine inside of latex gloves and deliver it to Gordon in that manner. Early on in the conspiracy, Gordon would receive quarter pounds of methamphetamine. In approximately January of 2006, Cota-Becerra would provide Gordon with half pound quantities. Gary Gordon would receive methamphetamine from Cota-Becerra every three or four days during the period of the conspiracy.
On November 3, 2006, law enforcement officers searched Gordon's home in Laurel, Montana. Cota-Becerra and Gordon had a disagreement regarding further distribution from Cota-Becerra to Gordon as law enforcement seized a large quantity of distributable methamphetamine. As a result John Bracy agreed to act as a middleman between Cota-Becerra and Gordon. Cota-Becerra would distribute the methamphetamine to Bracy; Bracy in turn would give it to Gordon. Gordon would deliver cash to Bracy and Bracy would give the cash to Cota-Becerra in payment for the methamphetamine to continue the conspiracy.
From mid-November 2006 to mid-January 2007, Bracy admitted to receiving three to six pounds of methamphetamine from Cota-Becerra to give to Gordon. Gordon believes that during the period of the conspiracy he received over 40 pounds of methamphetamine from Cota-Becerra for redistribution. Gordon, in turn, would deliver the methamphetamine to a network of individuals in varying quantities who then redistributed the methamphetamine in Billings, Bozeman, Browning, and other locations.
Law enforcement seized the following methamphetamine from Gary Gordon that Cota-Becerra had provided him for redistribution:
November 3, 2006: 177.5 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 144.3 grams of actual methamphetamine
November 21, 2006: 196.1 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 183.2 grams of actual methamphetamine
January 15, 2007: 206.8 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 168.8 grams of actual methamphetamine
Gordon was paying $2000 per ounce for the methamphetamine from Cota-Becerra, and Gordon would sell it for $2400 an ounce.
When arrested, Cota-Becerra admitting to knowing Gary Gordon and John Bracy. A search warrant executed on Cota-Becerra's shop revealed a digital scale containing methamphetamine residue, latex gloves and documents in Cota-Becerra's false name.
The United States would call co-conspirators and cooperating witnesses and others to establish the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute methamphetamine and the possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine from the fall of 2005 up to and including August 2007. The witnesses would also include DEA chemists, law enforcement officers that stopped Cota-Becerra with false identification documents, and tax returns showing that Cota-Becerra never filed income tax returns for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he generated in the sale of methamphetamine.
The United States would establish that the amount of methamphetamine involved in the conspiracy was clearly over 500 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 50 grams of actual methamphetamine as to Count I and further establish the amounts of methamphetamine seized on November 3, 2006, November 21, 2006, and January 15, 2007.
John Bracy plead guilty to federal charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Gary Gordon plead guilty to federal charges and has been sentenced.
COTA-BECERRA faces possible penalties of 10 years to life in prison, a $4,000,000 fine and at least 5 years supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Seykora prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Billings Police Department and the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.