GREAT FALLS — Brocktin James Russo, who admitted to traveling outside of Montana to obtain large quantities of heroin for resale throughout the state, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday, January 6, 2022.
Russo, 31 years old, pleaded guilty in September 2021 to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
Prosecutors alleged that for four years, Russo traveled out of state to acquire large amounts of heroin for resale in Montana.
Between January 2020 and January 2021, officers with the Russell Country Drug Task Force interviewed various sources who indicated that Russo, who went by the street name “Panda,” was dealing heroin in Great Falls. The sources said that Russo frequently traveled out-of-state to obtain heroin and identified Chicago as one of the main cities to which Russo traveled to “re-up.”
On January 7, 2021, law enforcement spoke with a person who said that he/she recently observed a foul-smelling, brown tar-like substance in the bathroom of Russo’s home. The person also stated that Russo was earning “bad money,” that he both used and sold drugs, that he told the relative that he owes his “bosses” over $50,000, and that he recently took all the family’s money for a “vacation” out of state.
After being arrested, Russo admitted that he was in Las Vegas to pick up heroin. He said his packages of heroin cost about $25,000 and he brought around $12,000 in cash with him to pay for his last trip. He admitted that he had been to Chicago several times to purchase heroin, that he had been selling heroin for approximately four years, and said that more than two million dollars of heroin had passed through his hands during that time.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided and sentenced Russo to 78 months in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said in a news release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Starnes prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Russell Country Drug Task Force and the Great Falls Police Department.