Benito Lozoya Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula on June 29, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, BENITO LOZOYA, a 37-year-old resident of Denver, Colorado, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing has been set for October 8, 2010. He is currently detained.
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:
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Butte Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency (BSBLEA), and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force (SMDTF) have been investigating a methamphetamine-trafficking organization in the Butte area since 2008. That investigation has led to the prosecution and conviction of eight people for conspiracy to distribute pounds of meth in Silver Bow, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Gallatin Counties.
One of the conspirators in the investigation was interviewed by law enforcement and provided information about LOZOYA, who served as a source of supply for methamphetamine from Denver. The conspirator told law enforcement that LOZOYA was still in contact and was interested in transporting a quantity of meth to Butte. The investigating officers enlisted the assistance of the conspirator in placing telephone calls to LOZOYA, who arranged to meet the conspirator in Butte to distribute six ounces of methamphetamine.
On March 23, 2010, LOZOYA and another individual arrived in Butte driving a rental car. The conspirator arranged to meet them in a business parking lot. Instead, law enforcement officers confronted LOZOYA and the other individual, employed a trained K-9 on the car, who alerted to the odor of drugs, and seized the car in order to obtain a search warrant. During the subsequent search, the officers seized approximately six ounces (170.1 grams) of methamphetamine from the engine compartment, precisely where the conspirator said it would be and had been during prior transactions with LOZOYA.
LOZOYA initially declined to be interviewed, but later requested to speak with officers and admitted to being involved in the conspiracy. He admitted that he knew about the deal that was supposed to transpire on March 23, 2010, and had made a few other trips to Butte to deliver methamphetamine to the conspirator referenced above.
LOZOYA faces 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.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.