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Press Release

Fentanyl trafficking in Kalispell area sends Mexican citizen to prison

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

MISSOULA  — A Mexican citizen who admitted to trafficking fentanyl in the Kalispell area after law enforcement seized 12,000 fentanyl pills, more than $72,000 in U.S. currency and a pistol from his vehicle was sentenced today to seven years and three months in prison, to be followed by four years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Cuauhtemoc Cervantes Samaniego, 30, pleaded guilty in May to a superseding information charging him with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

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

The government alleged in court documents that Samaniego trafficked fentanyl in the Kalispell community from about May 2022 through Oct. 5, 2022. Investigators received information that Samaniego was in Kalispell with a large amount of fentanyl to distribute. At about 2:50 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2022, law enforcement officers located Samaniego at a gas station in Kalispell and searched his vehicle. Officers found 12,000 fentanyl pills, $72,687 in U.S. currency and a 9mm pistol. An individual later told an agent that Samaniego had met with a person prior to law enforcement stopping him and that Samaniego had provided the person fentanyl pills. The person gave Samaniego a firearm.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer S. Clark prosecuted the case. Homeland Security Investigations, the Northwest Drug Task Force and Montana Highway Patrol conducted the investigation.

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 September 21, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: 23-355