News and Press Releases

Ricardo Collazo-canales, Manuel Melgar and Amber Reaves Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings, on December 3, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, MANUEL MELGAR and AMBER REAVES, residents of Billings, appeared for sentencing.

MELGAR was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine a term of:

  • Prison: 21 months
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Supervised Release: 4 years

REAVES was sentenced in connection with her guilty plea to conspiracy to maintain drug involved premises to a term of:

  • Probation: 2 years
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Fine: $500
  • Forfeiture: 2 cars

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 Ricardo 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 pled guilty to federal charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that they will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, they do 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 Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.



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