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Butte men sentenced for illegal importation of Chinese pill presses

Posted at 6:33 AM, Apr 11, 2024

BUTTE — Two Butte men were sentenced this week after pleading guilty in November 2023 to charges in connection with the illegal importation of pill presses from China, according to U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana said David Jesus Tapia-Padron, 34, was sentenced on April 10, 2024 to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. His co-defendant, Austin Perry King-Terrell, 30, was sentenced on April 9 to three years of probation and fined $4,000.

According to the release, in September 2022, two industrial tablet presses that were illegally imported from China and addressed to a warehouse in Anaconda were intercepted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The DEA had the presses delivered and determined that King-Terrell ordered and provided them to Tapia-Padron. The release said each press was priced at $3,499 and was capable of producing 4,500 to 6,000 pills an hour.

During a search of Tapia-Padron's residence, agents reportedly found large quantities of marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, and a vacuum-sealed package containing one kilogram of cocaine. According to the release, agents also found distribution paraphernalia, a money counter, money bands, several handguns and rifles, and a mannequin wearing body armor along with other items.

Tapia-Padron used his mother's name to order 50 kilograms of baby blue tabling mix from California five days before agents searched his home, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in the release.

Investigators also reportedly determined that Tapia-Padron paid King-Terrell to buy a press to make kief, a highly concentrated form of marijuana. The release said Tapia-Padron also regularly sold King-Terrell marijuana and offered him psilocybin mushrooms.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided over the sentencing of both defendants. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter and investigated by the DEA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations.