Michael Lira of Billings was sentenced Wednesday to 150 months, or 12.5 years, in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for his role in a meth trafficking ring in Montana, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris ruled.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office the Russell Country Drug Task Force began investigating Lira in the fall of 2016 for trafficking methamphetamine in Montana. Officers became aware that Lira, who lived in Billings, distributed methamphetamine for Great Falls resident Robert Linn, Jr.
On April 8, 2017, law enforcement learned that Lira planned to pick up methamphetamine from Linn that day. Agents also learned the defendant and Linn arranged to meet at a gas station near Lewistown. Law enforcement followed Linn throughout the early morning as he traveled around Great Falls. Linn eventually began to drive eastbound out of Great Falls toward Lewistown. Meanwhile, agents followed the defendant as he left Billings and drove toward Lewistown.
Around mid-morning, agents observed the defendant park next to Linn’s truck in the gas station parking lot and speak with him. He later retrieved a bag from his car and placed it in Linn's truck, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Agents later found Lira with methamphetamine on his person. Upon searching his vehicle, they found four large bundles weighing 1,793 grams.
During an interview, the defendant explained that he began by only selling an ounce of methamphetamine at a time. However, he quickly moved up to dealing more significant amounts of methamphetamine. The defendant believed he received a pound of methamphetamine from Linn by August and September of 2016. The defendant then recounted that he got two pounds of methamphetamine in December 2016, and an additional two pounds of methamphetamine in January and February 2017.
Lira has an extensive criminal history that includes felony convictions for narcotics, burglaries, assaults, and firearms.
Linn was sentenced in October 2017 to 276 months in prison for his role in this offense.