Washington Man Sentenced to Prison in Drug Trafficking Case
HELENA— A Kennewick, Washington man was sentenced today for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. United States District Judge Sam E. Haddon sentenced Hector Ricardo Gonzalez, 30, to 260 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release, and a $100 surcharge. Gonzalez 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 Gonzalez, 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 Christian Jesus Ruiz. The court previously sentenced Trask to 54 months in prison and five years of supervised release for his role in the conspiracy. The two remaining members of the conspiracy, Storlie and Ruiz, face 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 Gonzalez 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 Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department, the Powell County Sheriff’s Department, 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, “This is an important step in the ongoing effort to stop the organized, unlawful distribution of controlled substances coming to Montana from other states and countries. The case is particularly important because the defendants possessed firearms in connection with drug trafficking, a prescription for violent crime of the sort the United States Department of Justice is committed to ridding from our communities. The Court’s sentence today sends the message that those who bring illegal drugs to Montana—particularly those who do so while armed—will be caught, prosecuted, and imprisoned.” Alme also praised the collaborative work of the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to identify those responsible for significant violent crime in Montana. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a recently reinvigorated Department of Justice program that has proven to be successful in reducing violent crime. Today’s sentencing is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program.