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Billings man admits to drug charges after 30 pounds of meth were found in car

Agents found 30 pounds of meth and $11,380 cash in his vehicle
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Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 08:41:05-05

GREAT FALLS — An investigation into a methamphetamine conspiracy led to a Billings man who on Wednesday admitted drug trafficking crimes in federal court in Billings.

Agents found 30 pounds of meth and $11,380 cash in his vehicle, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme.

Jerry Ray Schuster, 56 years old, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth and to possession with intent to distribute meth. Schuster faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, up to a $10 million fine, and at least five years of supervised release.

The prosecution said in court records that an investigation into meth trafficking led to Schuster and a co-defendant, Byrne Mestas of Billings. Mestas, 62, has pleaded not guilty.

Law enforcement served a search warrant at Schuster’s and Mestas’ trailer on May 3, 2019. In the trailer 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, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Agents executed a second search warrant three days later on four vehicles located at the Schuster and Mestas residence. A search of a Suzuki Swift registered to Schuster found 30 pounds of meth located in three backpacks, $11,380 in cash and receipts documenting a trip to California. Thirty pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 108,720 doses and has a street value of about $225,000. In the other three vehicles, agents found another pound of meth, 100 pills, cash and other items.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters presided and set sentencing for May 7th. Schuster was released pending further proceedings.