Commercial truck driver admits trafficking charge after trying to haul approximately 30 kilos of cocaine across Montana border into Canada
MISSOULA — A Butte man suspected of receiving illegally imported pill presses from China and trafficking cocaine and other drugs admitted to a drug charge today, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
David Jesus Tapia-Padron, 33, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. Tapia-Padron faces a mandatory minimum of five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and at least three years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing was set for April 10, 2024 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Tapia-Padron was released pending further proceedings.
In court documents, the government alleged that in September 2022, two industrial tablet presses were illegally imported from China to the United States and addressed to a warehouse in Anaconda. The Drug Enforcement Administration intercepted the presses and then had them delivered. The DEA determined that co-defendant Austin King-Terrell, of Butte, had ordered the presses for Tapia-Padron and provided them to him. Agents later searched Tapia-Padron’s residence and found large quantities of marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and a vacuum sealed package containing one kilogram of cocaine. Agents also located distribution paraphernalia, a money counter and money bands throughout the home. In addition, the investigation determined that Tapia-Padron paid King-Terrell to buy what King-Terrell referred to as a “kief press.” Kief is a concentrated form of marijuana. Tapia-Padron regularly sold King-Terrell marijuana and offered him psilocybin mushrooms. King-Terrell pleaded guilty recently to illegal importation of a tableting machine and is pending sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter is prosecuting the case. The DEA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
Clair J. Howard
Public Affairs Officer