BILLINGS, Mont. — A U.S. judge has sentenced a Mexican citizen to almost five years in federal prison after prosecutors say he brought 34 pounds of methamphetamine from Arizona to Montana.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced 35-year-old Jorge Luis Mendez-Sanchez to 57 months at a court appearance in Billings. He pleaded guilty in January to possession of meth with intent to distribute the drug.

Montana law enforcement has struggled to contain a surge in violent crime over the past several years that officials say is being driven largely by methamphetamine trafficking and abuse.

Prosecutors say Mendez-Sanchez and alleged accomplice Aldo Pardini drove the drugs from Arizona to sell to a customer in Billings last July. They were arrested by authorities who had been alerted to the scheme through a confidential informant, according to court documents.

A conspiracy charge against Mendez-Sanchez was dismissed under a plea deal. Upon completion of his sentence, he will be turned over to immigration officials and likely deported, according to court documents and defense attorney Lance Lundvall.

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