A Texas man and a North Dakota man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to bringing more than a pound of meth from Utah to Montana, having $9,000 in counterfeit cash and carrying a gun.

Luis Alberto Garcia, 39, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Eric Jasper Lebeau, 47, of Bismarck, North Dakota, are each charged with possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted person and use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture, all felonies. They appeared in Gallatin County District Court before Judge John Brown.

Garcia and Lebeau are each being held at the Gallatin County jail on $1 million bail.

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper stopped a blue truck in May because Lebeau and Garcia were sitting in the bed while there was an open front passenger seat, according to charging documents.

The woman driving said she was giving Garcia and Lebeau a ride from the Four Corners Town Pump to the Belgrade Quality Inn.

Garcia and Lebeau said they were coming from Ogden, Utah, to visit a friend in Bozeman.

After speaking with the two, the trooper handcuffed Garcia and Lebeau. He said he was detaining them because he suspected they were involved in drug-related, criminal activity.

The trooper then asked a Gallatin County sheriff’s deputy to bring a dog to inspect Garcia and Lebeau’s backpacks. While waiting for the dog, the trooper asked the two to remove their backpacks from the truck to let the female driver leave.

Court documents said Lebeau was uncooperative and wasn’t claiming ownership of the backpacks. The female driver said the backpacks belonged to Garcia and Lebeau. The woman then removed the backpacks out of her truck and left.

The trooper released the two and seized the backpacks after the dog found a scent of drugs inside them, court documents said.

A few hours later, court documents said, the investigating trooper learned that Garcia and Lebeau were suspects in a hit-and-run crash in Yellowstone National Park a few days prior.

The trooper and a deputy went to the Belgrade Quality Inn and saw Garcia and Lebeau walking toward them, court documents said. Garcia attempted to flee when the trooper told them they were under arrest for the hit-and-run crash.

They arrested Garcia and Lebeau and took them to the Gallatin County jail.

Court documents said the trooper found 1.16 pounds of meth, $9,000 in counterfeit $100 bills and a loaded gun inside the bags.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.


Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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