California woman convicted in meth case sentenced to 18 months in prison
GREAT FALLS—A California woman was sentenced to 18 months in prison and to two years of supervised release on April 18 after Toole County sheriff’s deputies stopped her for speeding and ultimately found a mustard-covered package of methamphetamine that was hidden a cooler.
Karina Victoria Ruiz-Rosales, 24, of Lancaster, Calif., pleaded guilty earlier to possession with intent to distribute meth.
U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.
An investigation began on Oct. 26, 2015 after Toole County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Honda Accord with California license plates that Ruiz-Rosales was driving for speeding. Ruiz-Rosales gave a confusing account of why she was driving from Los Angeles, Calif., to Cut Bank, prosecution evidence showed. A deputy could see a blue and white cooler in the vehicle but very little luggage. Ruiz-Rosales provided a Mexican voter registration card but had no valid driver’s license, registration or insurance for the car. Deputies impounded the car.
Later the same day, numerous individuals began showing up at the sheriff’s office to retrieve the Honda, prompting officers to become suspicious because Ruiz-Rosales had said she didn’t know anyone in Cut Bank. Deputies had a drug dog sniff the car and the dog alerted near an area by the driver’s door. Law enforcement got a search warrant for the car but did not find any drugs. Officers also examined the cooler but did not notice anything unusual.
Four days later, deputies got a tip that two pounds of meth were hidden inside the cooler’s insulation. Also, another person from California showed up to retrieve the car. Deputies got another search warrant for the cooler, pried off the inside plastic liner and found a bag of meth covered in mustard. The amount of meth seized weighed about 306.4 grams, which is 0.67 pounds and is the equivalent of about 2,448 doses.
sistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley prosecuted the case, which was investigated by FBI, Toole County Sheriff’s Department and the Russell Country Drug 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.