A federal judge in Missoula Wednesday sentenced a former 20-year-old Bozeman man to three years in prison for selling cocaine from a home near Bozeman High School.

Christopher Stiles, who now lives in Las Vegas, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney's office for the state of Montana. District Judge Donald W. Molloy sentenced Stiles to three years in prison, five years supervised release and a $100 fine.

The FBI and Missouri River Drug Task Force began investigating Stiles in 2008, after getting a tip that young men in the Bozeman area were selling cocaine and that some of their customers were high school students, according to Timothy Racicot, assistant U.S. attorney.

"Specifically, law enforcement received information that cocaine was being distributed from a residence located not far from Bozeman High School," Racicot said.

The FBI and task force began watching the house, identifying individuals who appeared to be selling cocaine and used informants to buy cocaine.

"They eventually concluded that Stiles was one of the men selling cocaine and Luis Alberto Rocha was his supplier," Racicot wrote in a statement released Wednesday.

Between June 2009 and January 2010, undercover officer and confidential informants bought a total of three 8-balls (3.5 grams each), and a one-half ounce of coke from Stiles.

When questioned by police on Jan. 22, 2010, Stiles "admitted that he began receiving cocaine from Rocha during the summer of 2008," according to the prosecution. "During his involvement in the conspiracy, Stiles received between approximately 1.5 and 2 kilograms of cocaine from Rocha," according to the statement.

Stiles also traveled with Rocha three times to pick up cocaine in Albuquerque, N.M., and El Paso, Texas.

"When Rocha returned to Bozeman with cocaine, he would usually double the quantity using inositol, ammonia, acetone, or ether," Racicot wrote.

Rocha previously pled guilty to federal charges and has been sentenced.

The investigation into the cocaine sales was a cooperative effort between the Missouri River Drug Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Karin Ronnow can be reached at kronnow@dailychronicle.com.



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