BILLINGS – A Billings man who admitted trafficking methamphetamine after investigators found more than 30 pounds of the drug and $11,380 cash in his vehicle and residence was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Jerry Ray Schuster, 57, pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth and to possession with intent to distribute meth.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Schuster was allowed to self surrender.
The prosecution said in court records that an investigation into meth trafficking led to Schuster and a co-defendant, Byrne Martin Mestas. Mestas, 63, of Billings, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in August for conviction on a conspiracy charge in the case.
Law enforcement served a search warrant at Schuster’s and Mestas’ trailer on May 3, 2019. In the residence, agents found one pound of meth, three rifles, drug paraphernalia and receipts corroborating trips to California. A pound of meth is the equivalent of about 3,624 doses.
Agents executed a second search warrant three days later on four vehicles located at the residence. Investigators found 30 pounds of meth in three backpacks, $11,380 in cash and receipts documenting a trip to California in a Suzuki Swift registered to Schuster. Thirty pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 108,720 doses. In the other three vehicles, agents found another pound of meth, 100 pills, cash and other items.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Patten prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI Task Force and the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 36% from 2013 to 2018. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.