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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, April 26, 2024

Federal Jury Convicts 2 Montanans, 1 Californian of Meth, Fentanyl Trafficking in Butte, Helena Areas

MISSOULA — A federal jury on Thursday convicted two Montana residents and a California man of drug trafficking crimes for bringing pounds of methamphetamine and thousands of fentanyl pills to the Butte and Helena communities for distribution, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

After a four-day trial that began on April 22, the jury found Juan Felipe Vidrio Fuentes, 36, of Anaheim, California; James Andrew Stringari, 51, of Whitehall; and Janet Dean White, 57, of Butte, guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. The defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court set sentencing for Sept. 3 for all three defendants. The defendants remained detained pending further proceedings.

“These three defendants are the last of eight Montanans and Californians indicted and now convicted for bringing at least 13 pounds of methamphetamine and thousands of fentanyl pills to the Butte and Helena areas. The harm and misery they inflicted on people so they could make money cannot be overstated. Their convictions show that our office and our law enforcement partners are relentless in rooting out and ridding these drug trafficking rings from our cities and towns. I am grateful to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Lowney, our support staff, and the 11 law enforcement agencies who investigated and prosecuted this case,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.

At trial and in court documents, the government alleged that from June 2022 until about January 2023 in Butte and Helena, Fuentes, Stringari, White and five other co-defendants conspired to traffic meth and fentanyl. In June 2022, the Utah Highway Patrol stopped an individual traveling in a vehicle carrying 3.5 pounds of meth and 6,000 pills containing fentanyl and learned that the individual was transporting the drugs to Butte for distribution by “Esco,” who was Fuentes. Law enforcement further learned that Fuentes was staying at a house in Whitehall along with at least one co-defendant, Stringari, and that Fuentes was supplying both fentanyl and meth throughout the Butte area from the Whitehall residence. In addition, law enforcement inspected a source’s cell phone and corroborated information about meth and fentanyl trafficking that implicated Fuentes, Stringari, White and another co-defendant.

The government further alleged that in October 2022, law enforcement stopped a vehicle leaving the Whitehall residence. White was a passenger in the vehicle, and law enforcement found one pound of meth in her purse. In November 2022, law enforcement again stopped White in a vehicle and located three quarters of a pound of meth and more than 100 pills containing fentanyl. White also possessed several cell phones, which contained messages indicative of White’s drug distribution.

In addition, investigators in November 2022 intercepted packages containing approximately 9,000 pills containing fentanyl that were mailed by a co-defendant from California to the address in Whitehall and learned of a package the co-defendant had mailed to an address of another co-defendant in Butte. In January 2023, investigators intercepted another package containing 3,000 pills containing fentanyl that was sent from California to the address in Butte. Law enforcement also learned that Fuentes was now staying at a house in Helena.

Law enforcement conducted coordinated stops and raids of the Helena and Butte addresses. In the Butte residence, law enforcement located approximately six pounds of meth, 208 grams of fentanyl, $15,000 cash and seven firearms. In the Helena residence, law enforcement located approximately seven pounds of meth and 68 grams of fentanyl.

Co-defendants Martin Topete Garcia, 32, his brother, Johnathan Topete, 28, both of Mira Loma, California, Trevor Allen Handy, 27, of Butte, Anthony Wayne Johnson II, 51, of Santa Ana, California, and Agatha Noriz Carranza, 34, of Whitehall, pleaded guilty earlier to charges in the case and are pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Lowney is prosecuting the case. The Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Southwest Montana Drug Task Force, Montana Highway Patrol, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri River Drug Task Force, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Utah Highway Patrol and Utah State Bureau of Investigations conducted the investigation.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, please visit



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


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