NewsCrime and Courts


Montana woman sentenced to prison for trafficking meth

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Ashley Nicole Rico of Great Falls
Posted at 2:54 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 16:54:27-04

GREAT FALLS - A woman who admitted working with others to bring approximately seven pounds of meth from Las Vegas to Montana for distribution, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Monday.

Prosecutors alleged that Ashley Nicole Rico pooled money with co-defendants and traveled with them to Nevada, to buy meth.

Rico waited while co-defendants went to the source and bought the meth and then traveled back to Montana with them.

Law enforcement officers intervened before Rico received her portion of the meth, seizing approximately seven pounds of meth.

Officers ultimately stopped a vehicle being driven by co-defendant Lillian Lapier and found about 3.6 pounds of meth in the trunk.

Officers also executed a search warrant on the Helena residence of co-defendant Rhonda Lapier, and located three one-pound bags of meth and $6,132 in a bedroom.

Officers stopped another suspect vehicle, driven by Rico, who was arrested on a state warrant.

Rico admitted to distributing meth in Great Falls and that she and others had traveled to Las Vegas, picked up meth there and had contributed $1,000 to the deal.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Rico to 54 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Plaut prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Russell Country Drug Task Force, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, FBI, Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, and Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office.