BILLINGS — A California man who admitted to trafficking methamphetamine after law enforcement officers found 17.6 pounds of the drug hidden in a vehicle he was driving was sentenced Wednesday to six-and-a-half years in prison followed by five years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Christopher Santillanes Ceja, 31, of Riverside, California, pleaded guilty on March 8 to possession with intent to distribute meth.
In court documents filed in the case, federal prosecutors alleged that law enforcement agents learned in March 2019 about a shipment of meth being transported from Mexico to Billings.
Law enforcement surveillance saw a vehicle with a California license plate registered to Ceja pull into a Billings hotel. Ceja was known to law enforcement for his involvement in meth trafficking in the Billings area, according to prosecutors.
Later that same evening, officers conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and Ceja was driving. Agents impounded and searched the vehicle pursuant to a warrant. Agents located 19 bundles of meth concealed throughout the vehicle.
The meth totaled eight kilograms, or about 17.6 pounds, of pure meth. Eight kilograms of meth is the equivalent of about 63,782 doses.