GREAT FALLS — A woman who admitted trafficking methamphetamine after law enforcement found five pounds of the drug and a gun in her vehicle, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on January 28.
Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release that Opal Inez Cox, 40, pleaded guilty on Oct. 6, 2020, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The prosecution said in court documents that law enforcement learned Cox was distributing meth in Montana and stopped her vehicle as she returned to the state from Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2019.
Officers found about five pounds of meth and a 9mm pistol hidden together in the center console of the car. Five pounds of meth is the equivalent of 18,120 doses.
Court documents state that Cox admitted the car contained methamphetamine and that she was in possession of the firearm hidden with the drugs. She claimed the gun was for her protection.
Cox was not allowed to have a firearm given her previous criminal history. Drug dealers often use firearms to protect their methamphetamine while traveling and distributing drugs.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided, and sentenced Cox to 12 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, FBI, IRS and Drug Enforcement Administration.