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Tomas Alvarado and Eliseo Lopez Martinez Sentenced in U.S. District Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 21, 2013

The United States Attorney(s Office announced that during a federal court session in Helena, on October 21, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, TOMAS ALVARADO, age 59, and ELISEO LOPEZ MARTINEZ, age 50, residents of Turlock, California, were sentenced.

ALVARADO was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 360 months

Special Assessment: $100

Forfeiture: $56,000 and multiple firearms

Supervised Release: 5 years

MARTINEZ was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 324 months

Special Assessment: $100

Forfeiture: $56,000 and multiple firearms

Supervised Release: 5 years

They were sentenced in connection with their guilty pleas to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph E. Thaggard and Brendan P. McCarthy, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In late 2012, the FBI, DEA, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation (MDCI), the ATF, various drug task forces based in Billings, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff(s Department, and the Montana Highway Patrol began to investigate the widespread distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin in an area stretching from Billings to the Bakken oil fields of northeastern Montana and western North Dakota. In March 2013, the Idaho State Police also joined the investigation.

As part of the investigation, on March 1, 2013, the Montana Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle driven by an unindicted coconspirator on Interstate 90 near Park City. The vehicle was subsequently searched and found to contain one-quarter pound of methamphetamine and a quantity of heroin the unindicted coconspirator said consisted of 80 grams.

The unindicted coconspirator admitted to distributing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine. The unindicted coconspirator stated that the sources of supply for the drugs were (Mateo( and (Tomas.( The descriptions provided by the unindicted conspirator of (Mateo( and (Tomas( matched those people known to law enforcement officers in Billings as MARTINEZ and ALVARADO.

On March 11, 2013, Idaho State Police stopped a vehicle driven by ALVARADO in Power County, Idaho. An adult female was a passenger in the vehicle. ALVARADO said he and the passenger had driven from Billings to Nevada the previous day and were returning to Billings. A search of the vehicle ensued. The authorities found a .40 caliber handgun, three gross pounds of a substance that yielded a presumptive Narcotics Identification Kit (NIK) test result for the presence of methamphetamine, and two gross pounds of a substance that yielded a positive NIK test result for the presence of cocaine.

On March 12, 2013, the authorities, acting under the authority of a search warrant, searched a residence in Billings occupied by MARTINEZ. The officers recovered three handguns, over $56,000 in United States currency, two pounds of suspected cocaine, six pounds of suspected methamphetamine, and over 100 grams of suspected heroin.

The officers also searched a motor vehicle at or near MARTINEZ(s residence in Billings. That vehicle was associated with MARTINEZ. The officers found 16 total firearms, including handguns, shotguns, and rifles (including two semi-automatic, SKS assault-style rifles) in the vehicle.

MARTINEZ was taken into custody when the search warrant was executed on March 12, 2013. When interviewed, MARTINEZ stated he had moved to Montana two or three months earlier as part of plan whereby he and ALVARADO distributed methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in the Billings area. MARTINEZ estimated that he and ALVARADO had sold approximately 25 pounds of methamphetamine over the preceding two months.

On March 12, 2013, the authorities interviewed ALVARADO. ALVARADO stated that he and MARTINEZ had distributed methamphetamine in Billings since approximately October 2012 and moved to Billings in November 2012 as part of the distribution scheme. ALVARADO detailed that, between October 2012 and March 12, 2013, he and MARTINEZ distributed at least 80 pounds of methamphetamine to subordinate drug dealers in Montana.

On March 12, 2013, the authorities also interviewed MARTINEZ. MARTINEZ admitted that he had moved to Montana two to three months earlier and participated in a scheme whereby MARTINEZ and ALVARADO distributed methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in Montana.

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.

This investigation was a part of Project Safe Bakken, which is a cooperative effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Marshal's Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation (MDCI), the Montana Highway Patrol, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office, and the Idaho State Police.

Today's sentence is a product of diligent work by the very dedicated agents who have been joined together under the banner of Project Safe Bakken. As the work of this team - which includes law enforcement professionals from all branches of local, state, and federal law enforcement - goes forward, the people of Montana and North Dakota can expect more cases from affected communities. That is the mission and commitment of Project Safe Bakken." said U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter.

 

 

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