GREAT FALLS — A Washington man convicted by a federal jury of drug trafficking crimes for bringing methamphetamine and fentanyl to the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation for distribution was sentenced today to 10 years and eight months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
A jury on Aug. 17 found Aaron Ramirez Espinoza, 37, of Yakima, Washington, guilty of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances,
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.
In court documents and at trial, the government alleged that in May 2021, law enforcement seized fentanyl pills from a witness, who identified his suppliers as a group of men from Yakima. The investigation led to Espinoza being identified as a member of this group. Law enforcement further learned that Espinoza was bringing drugs to Montana, and the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in particular, for distribution, and that he had made repeated drug runs to Montana for more than a year. On May 12, 2022, officers arrested Espinoza at a Great Falls business’ gas station and found in his jacket pocket a pouch containing a bag of meth and two bags of fentanyl pills. Espinoza later said he had been going to meet someone at the business but that they never showed up and that he was “trying to make a living.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan R. Plaut prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Russell Country Drug Task Force and Great Falls Police Department.
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