Head of Major Meth Conspiracy Pleads Guilty in Federal Court
The head of a Casper-based statewide methamphetamine ring pleaded guilty to conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute and money laundering counts in federal court in Casper on Wednesday.
Ernie Paul Montoya Sr. -- also known as Ernest Montoya -- could face a mandatory minimum 10 years behind bars on each count when he is sentenced on Dec. 16, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said.
Montoya is in his late 60s, according to court records.
During his plea, Montoya said he would drive from Casper to Salt Lake City and obtain quantities of more than 500 grams -- 17.9 ounces -- and return to Wyoming and distribute them to other co-conspirators for selling in Casper, Gillette, Riverton and Rawlins.
Sometimes he would sell local dealers the drugs for cash, and sometimes he would "front" the drugs without payment until the sellers received their money and then repaid him, he said.
Montoya and the other defendants in this case -- Gregg Denny, Delza McKannan, Royce Moritz, James Brown and Daryll "Auggie" Giron -- would communicate by cell phone regarding the sale, availability and price of the drugs, according to this count in the superceding indictment filed in the court on July 22.
On the second count of possession with intent to distribute, Montoya said he was stopped by law enforcement outside Farson on Nov. 10, 2013, when the drugs were found.
Regarding the money laundering count, he said he would send money orders for the proceeds of the receipts to Giron, who was Montoya's source in Salt Lake City.
Other defendants in this case will be entering pleas in the coming months, according to federal court records.