Yogi Bear Fan Gets 15 Years For Meth Trafficking

Perp made boo-boo with Yellowstone alibi

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Yogi Bear Meth Case

OCTOBER 29--The drug courier who told a Montana state trooper that he had just come from Yellowstone National Park “where he was visiting Yogi Bear” has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for methamphetamine trafficking.

Manuel Paz Sanchez Jr., a 32-year-old California resident, received the stiff sentence during a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Billings (where Sanchez had previously copped to a felony count of possession with intent to distribute meth).

Seen above, Sanchez was arrested in December 2017 after the rental car he was driving was pulled over by a Montana Highway Patrol trooper who spotted the car tailgating another vehicle on Interstate 90.

During police questioning, Sanchez gave conflicting accounts of his recent travels and could not remember the name of the North Dakota town to which he was purportedly headed. Sanchez also could not recall the name of the Idaho town from which he supposedly departed, according to a court affidavit.

When a Drug Enforcement Administration task force agent quizzed Sanchez, he “stated that he was coming from Yellowstone National Park where he was visiting Yogi Bear.” Sanchez was pulled over about 50 miles north of Yellowstone’s northern edge.

Asked if there were any drugs, guns, or illegal items in the rented Ford Fusion, Sanchez “denied having anything illegal in the vehicle,” and gave suspicious investigators permission to search the auto.

A subsequent examination of the car revealed that six vacuum-sealed plastic packages containing meth were hidden inside a spare tire. The seized narcotics weighed 8.3 pounds.

Investigators recently described Sanchez as a drug courier who “connects a larger scale supplier in California with their everyday clientele in states like Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota.” Sanchez, who has been in custody since his bust, was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in federal prison, to be followed by a five-year probation term.

According to federal prosecutors, Sanchez has a lengthy rap sheet that includes a 2005 conviction for possession for sale of cocaine which “included him possessing a firearm at the time of the offense.” Sanchez was also an “accessory after the fact to a gang involved homicide in 2006” and was convicted of participating in a 2008 “criminal street gang assault” which occurred while he was in state custody.

Prior to his arrest in the meth case, Sanchez, a married father of two children, worked for a roofing firm in Sacramento. (4 pages)