California meth trafficker sentenced to 10 years in prison
BILLINGS—A California man who admitted transporting methamphetamine to Billings for distribution in Montana was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Oscar Antonio Valenzuela, 27, of Calexico, CA, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth.
Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.
The prosecution said in court records that Valenzuela was among a group of couriers who brought meth from Mexico to Billings in 2017 and 2018. Investigators learned of Valenzuela in early 2017 when they received cell phone records from phones seized from individuals distributing meth in Montana. A search warrant on a phone seized from a cooperating distributor showed months of text messages between the distributor and Valenzuela about transporting meth to Billings. The distributor also identified Valenzuela as the driver of a car that brought 20 pounds of meth to Billings. Twenty pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 72,480 doses and has a street value of about $150,000. Other witnesses involved in meth trafficking identified or provided information about Valenzuela.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI Transnational Organized Crime West 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.