Mexican national admits firearm and immigration crimes after arrest in Glacier County

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

GREAT FALLS — A Mexican national today admitted to firearm and immigration crimes after an arrest in Glacier County in which law enforcement found a stolen firearm, ammunition, methamphetamine, fentanyl pills and counterfeit identification cards, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

Jesus Zamora-Cuevas, 23, from Mexico, pleaded guilty to prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition and to illegal reentry. Zamora-Cuevas faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the firearm count.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Chief Judge Morris set sentencing for June 15. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Zamora-Cuevas was detained pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that at 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 14, Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services officers responded to a report of a strange vehicle parked near a local resident’s driveway. The caller reported hearing what sounded like a gun being cocked when he approached the vehicle. Officers located the vehicle near the caller’s driveway. Zamora-Cuevas was the driver and there was one passenger. Officers removed both individuals from the vehicle and patted them down. Officers found approximately 32 grams of meth on Zamora-Cuevas.

Officers saw the butt of a pistol under the driver’s seat and removed it. The pistol, which had a round in the chamber and a partially loaded magazine, had been reported stolen in Washington. A search warrant was executed on the vehicle, and officers found a second firearm, a .410-gauge shotgun, in the trunk, a second loaded magazine for the pistol and numerous rounds of 9mm ammunition in a bag. In addition, officers found in the vehicle a locked box that contained thousands of fentanyl pills.

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Officers also found on Zamora-Cuevas documents bearing his name and purporting to be a permanent resident card and a Social Security card. The identification number on the permanent  resident card was associated with a female, from Pakistan, who had become a U.S. citizen, while the number on the Social Security card was issued to an individual born in 1863. The investigation determined that Zamora-Cuevas was not a U.S. citizen and had unlawfully re-entered the United States after having been removed in 2017.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan R. Plaut is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Homeland Security Investigations and Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. 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.

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