A federal judge in Billings on Wednesday ordered a Montana man to spend about five years in prison for his role in a large, Fishtail-based meth conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced Gene Andrew Tufton, 43, of Reserve, in northeastern Montana, to 63 months for his guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute meth, court records said. Other charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Watters also ruled Tufton was a minor participant in the overall conspiracy, records said.

Prosecutors said the convicted leader of the trafficking ring, Merrill Clark Gardner of Fishtail, identified Tufton as someone to whom he had supplied meth. Gardiner is serving more than 15 years in prison for trafficking at least 178 pounds of meth.

In November 2015, law enforcement executed a search warrant on Tufton’s motorcycle and seized about a half pound of meth, prosecutors said.

Tufton is among about eight people charged or convicted in the Fishtail conspiracy, which ran from about January 2012 until June 2015, and brought meth to Montana from Arizona.

Outbrain