(Casper, Wyo.) – The alleged leader of a large central Wyoming methamphetamine distribution ring has been indicted on four criminal charges by a Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming in Casper. Ernest Paul Montoya Sr. was allegedly responsible for sourcing methamphetamine to be distributed by more than 13 others who were arrested earlier this year, among several other Montoyas.
Montoya Sr. is charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute Methamphetamine; Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine and Aiding and Abetting; and Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Aiding and Abetting. If found guilty of all four charges he is facing 20 years to life in prison and/or $26 million in fines.
He has six other co-defendants in federal court: Gregg T. Denny, Preston P. Montoya, Delza K. McKannan, Royce E. Moritz, James L. Brown, and Daryll Giron. The six share in various combinations of the charges against Montoya Sr. Denny is also charged with a single county of Distribution of Methamphetamine.
All seven, except for Denny, have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Denny has not yet been arraigned. A plea agreement has been filed in the case against Preston Montoya, however the details of the document are sealed from the public. Preston Montoya is also the sole person charged in the case who was also charged in the state’s District Court in Casper.
According to the indictment, Montoya Sr. would receive meth from Giron in Salt Lake City, Utah, and have it transported to various towns in Wyoming for distribution.
“It was a further part of the conspiracy that Montoya, Sr. would personally distribute this methamphetamine and would instruct Denny, (Preston) Montoya, McKannan, Moritz, and other people known and unknown to the grand jury to arrange for and effect the distribution of this methamphetamine to customers in Casper, Gillette, Riverton and Rawlins, Wyoming,” the indictment states.
The meth was then reportedly either sold to the distributors for re-sale or fronted with an expectation of repayment later.
It is alleged that the seven communicated using cell phones about the conspiracy and utilized code words in a effort to “disguise the true nature of their conversations.” Throughout it all, it is alleged that seven were in possession of and intended to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine.