Johnathan Miguel Balbin-Murillo Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on August 8, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, JOHNATHAN MIGUEL BALBIN-MURILLO, a 29-year-old resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing has been set for November 8, 2012. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
BALBIN-MURILLO came to the attention of law enforcement officers as part of a larger drug case. BALBIN-MURILLO was identified as a person who brought large amounts of methamphetamine from Las Vegas to Billings on behalf of supplier Howard Bonifant to distribute to Bonifant's network here. As others were arrested, they gave testimony that led to the discovery of BALBIN-MURILLO and his role in the operation as a courier between Vegas and Billings. BALBIN-MURILLO was interviewed by agents in November 2011 and confessed that he had been recruited by Howard Bonifant in 2010 to transport methamphetamine from Las Vegas to Billings. After transporting it, BALBIN-MURILLO would stay in Billings and assist in its distribution to Bonifant's next level of distributors, and would then transport the drug proceeds via Greyhound bus back to Las Vegas where he would give the proceeds to Bonifant. BALBIN-MURILLO confirmed that he worked with two other individuals and the three men took turns traveling to Billings with methamphetamine and returning with the money. They would each bring up pounds at a time. BALBIN-MURILLO confirmed distributions to various large customers in Billings. BALBIN-MURILLO's involvement began in January 2010 and ended in November 2010.
Bonifant pled guilty to federal charges and is awaiting sentencing.
BALBIN-MURILLO faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life, a $4,000,000 fine, and 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force.