Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meth dealers sentenced to prison

Defendants were indicted by a Blaine County grand jury


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Jose Manuel Hurtado-Delatorre Ricardo Vargas-Hurtado

Two Blaine County men, indicted by a Blaine County grand jury last year, have been sentenced to prison for their involvement in methamphetamine sales to a police confidential informant.

Sentenced was pronounced Monday by Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee for Jose Manuel Hurtado-Delatorre, 28, and Ricardo Vargas-Hurtado, 22. Hurtado-Delatorre was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for conviction of a single count of delivery of methamphetamine, while Vargas-Hurtado was sentenced to four and a quarter years in prison for conviction of two counts of aiding and abetting delivery of methamphetamine.

Both were indicted by the grand jury in June following a lengthy undercover operation by the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Both Hurtado-Delatorre and Vargas-Hurtado are accused by federal immigration authorities of being in the United States illegally, even though both have lived most of their lives in Blaine County.

Hurtado-Delatorre

Elgee gave Hurtado-Delatorre credit for nearly a year spent in jail following his arrest in March 2011 for the methamphetamine sale. He was given a two-year fixed and a two-and-a-half-year indeterminate sentence. He will be required to spend about a year in prison before he is eligible for parole.

Originally charged with two counts of delivery of methamphetamine, Hurtado-Delatorre pleaded guilty to a single count in January.

Elgee told the defendant that he was giving him a prison sentence because "your criminal record is really awful" and "your record at probation is atrocious."

It was Hurtado-Delatorre's first felony conviction, but according to Blaine County court records he has numerous misdemeanor convictions, including three for battery and five for drug offenses, and seven probation violations.

Hurtado-Delatorre told the court that he has been trying to improve his life since he's been in jail.

"I'm sorry to the community for the turmoil I've cause," he said. "I know I did wrong but I believe everybody deserves a second chance."

Elgee told the defendant that he hopes he is sincere.

"You're at the point in your life where you're either going to change or you're going to spend the rest of your life in prison," the judge said.

Ketchum attorney Dan Dolan, appointed as public defender, said his client believes he is a U.S. citizen even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement is alleging otherwise.

"If he's not a citizen, he'll be deported. If he's a citizen, he will not," Dolan said.

Vargas-Hurtado

Vargas-Hurtado also faces deportation once released from custody. However, there seemed no uncertainty in court about his illegal status in the United States.

Hailey attorney Douglas Nelson, assigned as public defender, even used the defendant's illegal status as an argument against a prison sentence.

"He's out of here no matter what, so why are we going to take up prison space and money and not put him on probation?" Nelson asked.

Elgee told the defendant that he was giving him a prison sentence because of a prior felony conviction for aggravated battery in Blaine County in 2011.

The judge gave Vargas-Hurtado credit for about nine months in jail following his arrest on the methamphetamine charges in June. The sentence requires a fixed prison term of a year and nine months and an indeterminate prison term of two and a half years. Vargas-Hurtado will have to spend about a year in prison before he is eligible for parole.

Speaking through a court interpreter, Vargas-Hurtado also told the judge that he is trying to improve his life and that he has been involved in drug and alcohol treatment programs since he was incarcerated.

"Now I realize that I have lived a bad life," he said.

"How long you are in prison depends a great deal on you," Elgee said. "If you go there and behave, you'll get out fairly soon. If you go there and cause trouble, you'll be there three and half years."

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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