MISSOULA — A Belgrade man admitted on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, to trafficking cocaine after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service intercepted a package containing six and one-half pounds of cocaine that was mailed to his former address, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.
Luis Alberto Rocha, 38, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Rocha faces a minimum mandatory five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine, and four years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing was set for June 10. Rocha was detained.
The prosecution said in court documents that in September 2019, the Missouri River Drug Task Force in Bozeman received information from a confidential source that Rocha was involved in distributing drugs.
In April 2020, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service noticed packages scheduled for delivery to Rocha’s residence in Belgrade and his former residence in Bozeman, which he rented to several employees of his construction company. The inspector learned that five packages had been sent to Rocha’s residence from California since July 2019, six packages had been sent from Texas, and three packages had been sent from Arizona.
On July 16, 2020, the inspector searched a package addressed to Rocha pursuant to a federal warrant. The package, heat-sealed in plastic wrapping, contained U. S. currency and had “27K” written on the wrapping. The agents returned the money to the parcel and delivered it in the normal course. Two days later, another package was sent to Rocha’s residence from an address in Nebraska. That package, also searched pursuant to a warrant, contained $62,000 in U.S. currency. Rocha personally picked up the package from the Belgrade post office.
On August 17, 2020, another package was sent to Rocha’s former address in Bozeman. Pursuant to a warrant, the package was searched and found to contain 2,981 grams of cocaine, which is about six and one-half pounds. The delivery of the package was delayed due to the ongoing investigation, and agents learned someone checked on the status of the package more than 300 times from an IP address that is registered to Rocha.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Racicot is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Missouri River Drug Task Force and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 48% from 2013 to 2019. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.