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Press Release

Two men sentenced in Bozeman drug probe after investigators find nearly five pounds of meth in vehicle

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

MISSOULA—Two men convicted of methamphetamine trafficking charges were sentenced to prison today after an investigation in which law enforcement seized almost five pounds of meth from a vehicle, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Victor Manuel Ortega-Yescas, 51, of Bozeman, was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by referral to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. Ortega-Yescas pleaded guilty in June to possession with intent to distribute meth.

Co-defendant Carmelo Enrique Ruiz-Morales, 45, of Bozeman, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by referral to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. Ruiz-Morales pleaded guilty in June to distribution of meth.

The prosecution said in court documents that the defendants were identified as sources for meth in Bozeman. A confidential informant working with the Missouri River Drug Task Force made three controlled buys of two ounces each time from Ruiz-Morales in late 2018. Investigators then set up a controlled buy with Ruiz-Morales, and the informant bought one pound of meth for $7,500. One pound of meth is the equivalent of about 3,624 doses.

Law enforcement began investigating Ortega-Yescas as a potential source after observing Ruiz-Morales meeting with him.  A search warrant served on Ruiz-Morales’ phone showed a large number of text messages between the two men that indicated Ortega-Yescas supplied meth to Ruiz-Morales. Investigators learned that Ortega-Yescas would take 15-hour drives to Lynwood, CA, spend a few hours there and return to Montana. On Feb. 8, Ortega-Yescas drove to Lynwood, arrived the next day and reentered Montana on Feb. 10. Officers pulled him over in Big Sky and executed a search warrant on his Ford Expedition. Officers found a large quantity of meth, which was found to be 2,146 grams, or 4.7 pounds, of 99 percent pure meth. That amount of meth is the equivalent of about 17,032 doses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bartleson prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Missouri River Drug Task Force and Montana Highway Patrol.

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.



Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer

Updated September 27, 2019

Project Safe Neighborhoods