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Press Release

Washington man sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for possessing meth, heroin for distribution

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

MISSOULA—A Washington man convicted of possessing methamphetamine and heroin for distribution after his arrest following a high-speed chase was sentenced this week to 15 years and eight months in prison and five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Juan Jose Camarena, 37, of Tacoma, WA, pleaded guilty in June to possession with intent to distribute meth, possession with intent to distribute heroin and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided at the Oct. 10 hearing. Judge Molloy also ordered forfeiture of $6,750 and ammunition.

The prosecution said in court records that a Montana Highway Patrol trooper arrested Camarena on Oct. 24, 2018 after a high-speed chase on Interstate 90 in which speeds approached 120 mph. Law enforcement served a search warrant on Camarena’s 2006 Mercedes and seized 9mm ammunition, drug paraphernalia, $6,750 in U.S. currency and drugs, including meth and heroin.

Camarena admitted to drug task force officers that he had fled the MHP trooper because he had “pounds” of drugs in his car and was concerned for his safety. He admitted stealing the drugs from a person in Missoula who owed him a debt. Camarena also admitted throwing drug evidence out of the car during the chase. Officers recovered about 3.1 pounds, which is the equivalent of about 11,234 doses, of meth and 99 grams of heroin from the car. In addition, Camarena was prohibited from possessing ammunition because of a prior conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bartleson prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Montana Highway Patrol, the Missouri River Drug Task Force and the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Police Department.

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 October 11, 2019

Project Safe Neighborhoods