Firearm and Drug Trafficking Lands Washington Man in Prison
HELENA — On Thursday, December 21, 2017, United States District Court Judge Sam Haddon sentenced Christian Jesus Ruiz, 23, of Sunnyside, Washington, to 60 months in prison, 5 years’ supervised release, and a $100 surcharge for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Ruiz was part of a scheme by multiple conspirators to distribute very large amounts of methamphetamine through Deer Lodge, Montana each month between January 2016 and January 2017. Members of the conspiracy, including Ruiz, possessed firearms in connection with the drug trafficking crimes they committed in Montana.
Other members of the conspiracy included Jeff Allen Trask, Chase Ryan Storlie, and Hector Ricardo Gonzalez. The court previously sentenced Trask and Gonzalez. Trask was sentenced to 54 months in prison and five years of supervised release for his role in the conspiracy. Gonzalez was sentenced to 260 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Storlie faces sentencing on January 3, 2018.
Gonzalez and Ruiz’s involvement in the conspiracy came to a sudden end on January 24, 2017, when the authorities arrested them in Mineral County, Montana, in possession of 20 pounds of methamphetamine. The methamphetamine was destined for Deer Lodge.
The charges against Ruiz and his codefendants are the result of an investigation by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Montana Highway Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Criminal Chief Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Thaggard and Assistant United States Attorney Tom Bartleson prosecuted the case.
United States Attorney Kurt Alme explained, “I want to thank our law enforcement partners for helping us bring these defendants to justice. The volatile combination of methamphetamine and guns is closely associated with a rise in violent crime in communities across Montana. The Department of Justice is committed to reducing violent crime in those communities and prosecuting Ruiz and his co-defendants is another positive step toward that goal.” Alme also praised the collaborative work of the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in the case.