Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On September 19, 2023, a Missoula Police Department Officer received a phone call from a detective, stating that he was out with the US Marshals near the area of 2400 N. Reserve Street. The detective observed a suspicious vehicle that had an inactive license plate.  

An officer conducted a traffic stop and the vehicle pulled into the Mullan Station. The officer explained her reasoning for the stop and the driver stated he had just purchased the vehicle. The driver stated he did not have his driver’s license, but identified himself as 27-year-old Marcos Barbe-Castillo.  

Barbe-Castillo began digging between the two seats in the front of the van, stating he was looking for a lighter. The officer asked if she could look in the area before Barbe-Castillo started reaching and Barbe-Castillo stated yes and then began walking to the rear section of the van. 

The Officer Observes Possible Drug Activity 

When Barbe-Castillo stood up, the officer observed a metallic “tooter” straw with burnt residue under the driver’s seat. The officer asked Barbe-Castillo if there was anything illegal within the vehicle and he stated there was not. Another officer arrived on the scene and deployed his K9 partner Zip to conduct an open-air sniff of the vehicle. During the sniff, the officer observed K9 Zip exhibit behaviors that were indicative of the detection of the odor of narcotics. 

The officer read Barbe-Castillo his Miranda rights, and Barbe-Castillo acknowledged that he understood and consented to a search of his vehicle. When asked if there were items in the vehicle that did not belong to him, Barbe-Castillo stated almost everything did not belong to him. 

The officer then opened the driver’s side door and began the consent search of the vehicle. During the search, the officer located a pouch of cocaine, a small bag of methamphetamine, cash, and a box of at least 500 fentanyl pills. Given the amount of drugs, the officer requested a tow for the van, in order to apply for a search warrant. The officer applied for and was granted a search warrant. 

The Following Items Were Located: 

A metallic tooter straw, a digital scale, a cigarette case that contained five suspected amphetamine pills, and a Grenade container on the vehicle’s key chain, which contained fentanyl. Additionally, there was a larger ziplock bag that contained suspected fentanyl pills, which were not counted for officer safety reasons, but were estimated to contain 1,200 suspected fentanyl pills. The officer also found five pills located in the cigarette box, which appeared to be consistent with amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, schedule 2 drugs. 

On September 20, 2023, the detective interviewed Barbe-Castillo at the Missoula County Detention Facility, during which time Barbe-Castillo admitted the suspected fentanyl pills found within the vehicle were his and further admitted that he possessed them for distribution. He also approximated the bag to contain 1,500 pills. According to court documents, the current drug prices for fentanyl pills in the Missoula area is approximately $20-$25 per pill. 

Suspect Admits to Selling Drugs

Barbe-Castillo admitted that he smoked a fentanyl pill with a female and then sold her 50 additional pills earlier in the day. He also stated that the cash found within the lockbox was a combination of casino winnings and money from distributing dangerous drugs.  

Barbe-Castillo is currently being charged with felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, felony criminal possession with intent to distribute, felony unlawful use/possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture, and two counts of felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs. On September 21, 2023, Barbe-Castillo made his initial appearance in Missoula Justice Court and his bond was set at $250,000. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable. 

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