California man sentenced to seven years in Sidney meth case
BILLINGS – California resident Raymond M. Fitch was sentenced to seven years in federal prison and to five years of supervised release on January 25 for conviction in a methamphetamine case in which the drug was mailed to Sidney from California, said U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme today.
Fitch, 59, of Imperial Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty earlier to possession with intent to distribute meth.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters presided at sentencing.
The investigation began in about August 2017 when the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation received information that two individuals from Sidney had been receiving regular shipments of meth by mail at their residence from a source in California.
On August 29, 2017, the U.S. Postal Service observed a package addressed to one of these persons from Chula Vista, Calif. The sender’s return address was to a strip mall. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on the package and found a clear plastic bag containing meth along with a note addressed to “T&T.” Officers also found a clear plastic bag containing about 54 grams of pure meth with a note reading “RF you owe 4000 total.” Fifty four grams of meth is the equivalent of about 432 individual doses.
During an interview, one of these co-conspirators told officers that “RF” was Ray Fitch and that Fitch received one ounce of meth from the California supplier in every package the source sent. The co-conspirator estimated that Fitch had received numerous packages of meth from the source. The second co-conspirator corroborated the statement and said that the meth reserved for Fitch was always labeled with the initials “RF.”
Law enforcement also interviewed one of Fitch’s customers who bought about a half ounce of meth daily from Fitch for about four months.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Dake prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
The case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.