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Press Release

California man who shipped meth from Sinaloa Cartel to Butte community sentenced to eight years in prison

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

MISSOULA  — A California man who admitted to a drug trafficking crime for shipping methamphetamine from the Sinaloa Cartel into the Butte community for redistribution was sentenced today to eight years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Heriberto Tavares, 30, of Anaheim, California, pleaded guilty in October 2022 to possession with intent to distribute meth.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that from about November 2018 to November 2019, Tavares served as a stash house for the Sinaloa Cartel. Tavares acted as the Amazon shipping services for the cartel, shipping drugs from Mexico into the United States at the direction of the drug trafficking leaders. In some instances, Tavares had 20 pounds of meth, which is the equivalent of approximately 72,480 doses, at a time in his home.

Law enforcement learned that Tavares was shipping drugs, which originated in Mexico, into Montana. During an undercover operation, an agent ordered meth from Humberto Villareal, of Sinaloa, Mexico, who was sentenced in 2021 to 17 years in federal prison for conviction of meth trafficking in the Butte area. In July 2019, law enforcement received a package, sent from Tavares, that contained 474 grams, or a little more than one pound, of meth and heroin. Agents paid for the drugs Tavares sent by wiring money to Ricardo Ramos Medina, in Sinaloa, Mexico. Medina was sentenced in 2020 to eight years in federal prison for conviction on trafficking pounds of meth and other drugs to the Butte area.

Tavares was indicted as part of an investigation into a large-scale drug trafficking organization that brought massive quantities of meth, counterfeit oxycodone pills and heroin into Butte for redistribution through out the state. The investigation resulted in federal convictions of 22 persons. Tavares is the last defendant to be sentenced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and Butte-Silver Bow Police.

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 February 21, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: 23-63