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Press Release

Arizona man sentenced to prison for trafficking fentanyl, meth and heroin in Great Falls

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

GREAT FALLS  — An Arizona man who admitted to trafficking fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin in the Great Falls community and to failing to appear after absconding before a jury trial was sentenced yesterday to seven years in prison, to be followed by three months of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Jose Manuel Villalobos Medina, 28, pleaded guilty in April to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and to failure to appear.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

The government alleged in court documents that in March 2020, drug task force officers in Great Falls began investigating suspected drug trafficking at a local hotel. Officers saw Medina, a guest at the hotel, leave the hotel and drive an SUV across town to a restaurant parking lot where he left the SUV and got into a sedan. Law enforcement ultimately made a traffic stop of the sedan and arrested a passenger, who attempted to conceal a meth pipe, for possession of drug paraphernalia. During a search of the passenger at the detention center, officers located a gallon-sized bag in the passenger’s crotch area that contained heroin, fentanyl pills and meth. Officers also detained Medina. During a pat-down search of Medina, officers located a large quantity of cash stashed in his crotch area. In a search of Medina’s hotel room, law enforcement found multiple packages of meth, heroin and fentanyl pills, along with a large amount of cash, drug ledgers, paraphernalia and several forms of identification for Medina.

Medina initially pleaded guilty to a charge in December 2020 and then withdrew his plea in April 2021. A jury trial was scheduled for May 2021, but Medina failed to appear and absconded. Medina’s whereabouts remained unknown until November 2022 when he was arrested in New Mexico.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Starnes prosecuted the case. The Russell Country Drug Task Force and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.




Clair Johnson Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated August 30, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: 23-333