GREAT FALLS – A man accused of leading a large methamphetamine and heroin trafficking ring and distributing drugs from a Great Falls pre-release center was sentenced today to 160 months in prison followed by 5 years supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Anthony Joseph Beltran, 45, who lived at a Great Falls pre-release center, pleaded guilty in March to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and to obstruction of justice by retaliating against a witness.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Judge Morris also ordered Beltran to forfeit four vehicles, an RV and $47,824 in currency.
The prosecution said in court records that law enforcement began investigating a meth and heroin distribution ring in Great Falls in September 2018. Agents learned that Beltran supplied a significant amount of drugs that came from California to others, including convicted co-defendants Jacqueline Kirkaldie and David Awberry, for redistribution. Kirkaldie was sentenced to 11 years and four months in prison, while Awberry was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Beltran, who was distributing meth and heroin while living at the pre-release center, also maintained a safe with drugs, cash and firearms at a local residence and had a storage unit.
During the investigation, detectives served a search warrant on the house where Beltran stored drugs and found about 4.8 pounds of methamphetamine. The amount of meth seized from the home is the equivalent of about 17,395 doses.
In a search of the storage unit, detectives found 31 firearms, most of which had been stolen from residences in Cascade County.
Beltran was arrested on April 3, 2019 and held at the Cascade County Detention Center. On April 22, 2019, detectives learned that the entire sealed criminal complaint filed against Beltran and his co-defendants had been published on Facebook pages and that its publication appeared to be an implicit threat against anyone who had provided law enforcement information about Beltran’s drug activities. Investigators linked the Facebook pages to Beltran, who in jail calls referred to funneling the paperwork out of the jail for posting on Facebook.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Great Falls Police Department, Russell Country Drug Task Force and the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.
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.