Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Santos gets 14 years for meth sale

Prosecutor alleges he repeatedly brought drugs from Mexico


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Bruno Santos Photo by Mountain Express

The former boyfriend of convicted murderer Sarah Johnson will spend time in prison after being sentenced Monday to 14 years in the state penitentiary for selling methamphetamine last year to an Idaho State Police undercover detective.

Bruno Santos, 27, will be required to spend eight years in prison before parole eligibility. Once released from custody, Santos could be deported to Mexico.

Blaine County 5th District Judge Robert J. Elgee gave Santos credit for 389 days in jail following his arrest on May 14, 2010, when he sold a half pound of methamphetamine for $13,500 to ISP undercover Detective Rich Garcia.

Santos pleaded guilty to trafficking in methamphetamine in March. In a separate case, he still faces two felony cocaine charges for allegedly selling that drug on two occasions in April 2010 to a confidential informant of the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team. Trial in that case is scheduled to begin June 28 in Blaine County 5th District Court.

In 2003, Santos was originally a suspect in the murders of Alan and Diane Johnson but was never charged in their deaths. Sarah Johnson, 24, was convicted of the murders of her parents in Bellevue in 2005, and is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Information presented at Monday's sentencing showed that Santos, a Mexican national, came to Blaine County at the age of 12 when brought here by his mother. He has been deported to Mexico three times since then but returned to the United States each time.

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"Any deportation obviously has no significance to him because he has returned to the area numerous times with no problem at all," said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback.

Fredback further alleged that Santos was heavily involved in the illegal drug trade, not only in the United States but in Mexico as well. He said Santos boasted about his involvement to the ISP detective prior to the drug sale that led to his arrest.

"He told the undercover officer that he used to cross the border every day and said he earned $300 each time for bringing a pound of methamphetamine across," Fredback said. "He talked about how frequently he could bring methamphetamine to Blaine County."

A pre-sentence investigation report prepared in the case states that Santos owns a home in Mexico valued at about $40,000.

"He doesn't know if he still owns it," said Ketchum attorney Dan Dolan, who was appointed public defender. "He rented it out, but has no had no communication on it since he was arrested."

Dolan further claimed that Santos was not the owner of the methamphetamine sold to Garcia, but instead was only a middleman.

In sentencing, Elgee said it is irrelevant whether Santos owned the drugs or not.

"It's clear to me that he's involved very heavily," the judge said. "This case did not evolve by accident, where he showed up one day with a half pound of methamphetamine. Whether he owned it or not is not important—he was involved in the methamphetamine trade."

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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