News and Press Releases

Epifanio Zuniga Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula, on July 10, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, EPIFANIO ZUNIGA, a 29-year-old resident of Othello, Washington, appeared for sentencing. ZUNIGA was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 60 months
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Supervised Release: 4 years

ZUNIGA was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On November 24, 2008, agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) purchased three ounces of methamphetamine and one pound of marijuana from ZUNIGA. DCI agents had previously purchased one pound of marijuana from ZUNIGA on two prior occasions in Arlee.

On the same day, ZUNIGA had sent a text message to the agents to negotiate the purchase of the methamphetamine and marijuana. They met ZUNIGA in the parking lot of a restaurant in Arlee. ZUNIGA got into the officers' car and handed one of the agents a heat-sealed bag containing the pound of marijuana. ZUNIGA also gave the agent three ounces of meth. The agents and ZUNIGA then negotiated a price for the drugs - $2,000 per ounce for the methamphetamine and $2,800 for the marijuana - and the agents exited their vehicle to get the money for ZUNIGA. Other officers then placed ZUNIGA under arrest.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that ZUNIGA will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, ZUNIGA does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force, and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.



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