A Turlock man has pleaded guilty to drug charges in Montana and could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to a report from the Billings Gazette, Hector Manuel Lopez, 23, of Turlock, gave Thomas Alvarado, 59, two pounds of cocaine on March 11 to be distributed from Billings, Mont. to the Bakken oil fields.
Lopez pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute during a U.S. District Court hearing in Billings on Thursday.
Lopez said that he knew cocaine was in the box he gave to Alvarado, but denied that it was distribution. He said he thought it was for personal use.
Alvarado was was stopped by Idaho State Police on his drive from Jackpot, Nev., where Alvarado was given the cocaine, back to Montana. Officers found the cocaine, a handgun, and three pounds of methamphetamine.
Alvarado, who moved from Turlock to Billings to run the distribution, confessed to distributing at least 80 pounds of meth in Billings and was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
After being caught, Alvarado cooperated with authorities and agreed to make a controlled delivery to a Billings residence where the cocaine was being stored.
The residence belonged to Eliseo Lopez Martinez, 50, of Turlock, Alvarado’s co-defendant.
The delivery was later canceled because of concern for the officers’ safety. However, a search warrant was served at Martinez’s residence where authorities recovered more than two pounds of cocaine, six pounds of meth, and more than 100 pounds of heroin.
Lopez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a possible $1 million fine.
Jennifer Michael Swanson, 32, of Billings, a passenger in Alvarado’s vehicle, was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and sentenced to four years in federal prison.
Martinez was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison on a conspiracy conviction. Alvarado and Martinez also forfeited $56,000 and several firearms.
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