News and Press Releases

Ricardo Collazo-canales, Manuel Melgar and Amber Reaves Plead Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on September 1, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, RICARDO COLLAZO-CANALES, MANUEL MELGAR, and AMBER REAVES, residents of Billings, pled guilty.

COLLAZO-CANALES pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.

MANUEL MELGAR pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

AMBER REAVES pled guilty to conspiracy to maintain drug involved premises.

Sentencing is set for December 3, 2009.

MELGAR is currently detained and COLLAZO-CANALES and REAVES are released on special conditions.

In Offers of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph E. Thaggard, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In August 2007, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration began to investigate the trafficking of cocaine by a criminal organization located in Billings. The investigation revealed that the leader of the organization in Billings was D.B.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement officers purchased a total of four ounces of purported cocaine from two individuals in August and September of 2007. One of the individuals later told law enforcement that COLLAZO-CANALES had provided the cocaine to him. The individual also stated that he received a total of 20 ounces of cocaine from COLLAZO-CANALES and then distributed the cocaine.

Other witnesses from Billings would have testified that they had also purchased cocaine from COLLAZO-CANALES. Collectively, the evidence would have established that COLLAZO-CANALES had possessed, with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.

The investigation also found that between March 26, 2008, and July 10, 2008, MELGAR distributed a total of nine ounces and one gram of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine to an undercover agent. That cocaine was provided to MELGAR by COLLAZO-CANALES.

A witness would have testified that he directly provided seven ounces of cocaine to MELGAR for distribution. Given the amount of drugs MELGAR distributed to the undercover agent over the course of the conspiracy, the amount of drugs witnesses would have testified had been provided to MELGAR, and MELGAR'S assumption of the role as a subordinate dealer of D.B.'s, the amount of cocaine attributable to MELGAR as part of the conspiracy was at least 500 grams of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.

MELGAR subsequently admitted that he stored cocaine at a residence he and his girlfriend, REAVES, maintained in Billings.

A witness would have testified that REAVES knew the residence was employed for the use and distribution of cocaine.

COLLAZO-CANALES and MELGAR each face possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to 40 years, a $2,000,000 fine and at least 4 years supervised release.

REAVES faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

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



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