Billings man admits conspiracy charges after law enforcement finds 32 pounds of meth in residence, vehicle search
BILLINGS–A Billings man admitted conspiracy charges today after agents investigating methamphetamine trafficking found 32 pounds of meth and $11,380 in cash at his residence, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Byrne Martin Mestas, 62, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth. Mestas faces a minimum mandatory 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and at least five years of supervised release. Mestas is detained.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided and recommended that Mestas’ plea be accepted by U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters, who is hearing the case.
The prosecution said in court records that an investigation into meth trafficking led to Mestas and a co-defendant, Jerry Ray Schuster, of Billings. Schuster pleaded guilty to trafficking crimes in January and is awaiting sentencing.
Law enforcement served a search warrant at Schuster’s and Mestas’ trailer on May 3, 2019. Agents found in the residence a pound of meth, three rifles, drug paraphernalia and receipts corroborating trips to California. A pound of meth is the equivalent of about 3,624 doses. Thirty two pounds of meth is about 115,968 doses.
Agents served a search warrant three days later on four vehicles at the residence. A search of a Suzuki Swift registered to Schuster revealed 30 pounds of meth located in three backpacks, along with $11,380 in cash and receipts documenting travel to California. In the other three vehicles, agents found about a pound of meth, 100 pills, cash and other items.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Patten is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI task force and the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 36% from 2013 to 2018. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.