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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 20, 2023

Two Butte Men Sentenced to Prison for Drug Trafficking, Firearms and Money Laundering Crimes

MISSOULA — Two Butte men convicted in a large armed drug trafficking operation that brought pounds of methamphetamine and other drugs to the Butte community and laundered proceeds were sentenced today to prison terms, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Mark Ernest Spani, 65, was sentenced to nine years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, while co-defendant Stanley Roy Vires, 68, was sentenced to seven years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. Both defendants pleaded guilty in 2022 to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, prohibited person in possession of firearms and ammunition and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that law enforcement learned in July 2021 that Spani and Vires were dealing drugs together and purchased meth from Vires through a confidential informant. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on Vires’ residence and recovered approximately five pounds of meth, a little more than one pound of heroin, 26 firearms and cash. In June 2022, law enforcement searched properties owned by Spani and found one pound of meth, cash and numerous firearms.

The government further alleged that Spani was involved in dealing meth, heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, traveled out of state to obtain and bring drugs back to Montana and carried guns while trafficking. When arrested, Spani appeared “to be reaching toward his right-hand side waist area,” which is where a gun was located. Spani had a previous federal felony drug conviction and was prohibited from possessing firearms.

In addition, the government alleged Vires was involved in dealing meth and heroin and that Vires admitted he received a total of about 15 pounds of meth in 2020 and 2021. Fifteen pounds of meth is the equivalent of 54,360 doses. When searching Vires’ vehicle, law enforcement found two loaded firearms. Vires was prohibited from possessing firearms because he had a prior federal conviction for drug trafficking.

The government also alleged Vires and Spani and others conspired to conceal money and used cash proceeds to buy additional drugs, including in Arizona. Vires and others also bought additional assets using drug trafficking proceeds.

Under a forfeiture count, Vires and Spani agreed to forfeit a residence in Butte, approximately 10 acres known as Fleecer View Estates, a 1955 Chevrolet 210 vehicle, a 2013 Harley Davidson Tri Glide Ultra Classic motorcycle, a 2019 Harley Davidson Tri Glide Ultra Classic, a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado K1500 pickup, a 2022 Dodge Ram 3500 Big Horn, a 2011 Montana 5th Wheel and $33,346 in U.S. Currency.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and Butte Police Department.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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