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A Billings drug dealer admitted federal marijuana trafficking charges Tuesday. Saul Nuno, 31, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession counts in an indictment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Seykora said Nuno worked with others to bring more than 1,300 pounds of marijuana from California in 2003 and 2004. Some of the marijuana was smuggled in the undercarriages of cars as they crossed into the country at Tijuana.

Nuno and co-defendant Steven B. Nava Jr., who is awaiting trial, were the main recipients and distributors of the loads, Seykora said. The conspiracy used numerous drivers, who were paid $3,000 to transport the marijuana to Billings. Undercover agents bought marijuana from Nuno, who sold it from a Heights restaurant where he worked as the manager.

Seykora said Nuno is responsible for between 880 pounds and 1,540 pounds of marijuana. Nuno disputed the drug quantities. About a year ago, Nuno was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for distributing cocaine and marijuana from the Heights restaurant in July 2004.

Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull set sentencing for April 29. Nuno faces a minimum mandatory five years to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

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