Saying he distributed methamphetamine to support his own drug habit, a Billings man admitted federal drug charges on Monday.
Milo Robert Cook III, 34, pleaded guilty to possessing meth with intent to distribute. Cook was charged as part of larger drug conspiracy that brought meth and other drugs to Billings and to the Bakken oil fields for distribution beginning last year.
One of Cook's sources was Walter Jack White, a Lockwood resident who authorities said was shot and wounded by his son, Brandon Jay Joseph White, over a disputed drug debt.
During a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby, Cook said he got meth for his own use then began obtaining larger quantities to sell to support his habit when his house-painting business slowed. He admitted to possessing more than 500 grams, which is a little more than a pound.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek said Billings law enforcement officers investigating Cook seized about 11 grams of meth from his vehicle in on Nov. 12, 2012.
In March, law enforcement officers in Idaho arrested a co-defendant, Tomas Alvarado, who had a large amount of meth and cocaine that he was bringing to Billings for distribution, Suek said. Alvarado told officers he had met Cook previously in Nevada and had been providing him meth for distribution.
Alvarado, 59, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in October for on conspiracy, while another co-defendant, Eliseo Lopez Martinez, 50, got 27 years. Both men, of Turlock, Calif., also forfeited $56,000 and numerous firearms.
Alvarado told officers that he and Martinez had distributed meth in Billings since October 2012 and that he moved to Billings a month later as part of the scheme. He also said that between October 2012 and March 2013, he and Martinez had distributed at least 80 pounds of meth to other drug dealers in Montana.
When officers executed a search warrant on White’s residence in March, they found meth packaged for distribution.
White admitted he had received meth from Alvarado and had provided the drug to Cook for distribution. During the search, officers also seized two handguns and about $15,291 in cash. White pleaded guilty to two charges of drug possession and firearms possession and is awaiting sentencing.
Ostby said she would recommended Cook’s plea be accepted by Senior U.S. District Judge Don Molloy, who will sentence him. Sentencing is set for March 6. Cook remains in custody. He faces a minimum mandatory 10 years to life in prison. A second count is to be dismissed at sentencing under the terms of a plea agreement.