Lengthy federal prison term for drug trafficker busted with meth and guns

Guns and drugs seized from a vehicle driven by Robert LaFond in 2017.

Calling Robert LaFond’s crimes dangerous, a federal judge in February sentenced him to 17.5 years in prison for trafficking drugs bound for Montrose through the I-70 corridor.

LaFond was arrested in 2017, with about 10 pounds of methamphetamine and multiple firearms.

Local authorities said LaFond’s arrest put a crimp in a major pipeline of drugs into the Montrose community.

He pleaded guilty last year to possessing at least 500 grams of meth, with the intent to distribute, and also to a conspiracy charge for working with others, including two Montrose women, to illegally obtain firearms via straw purchases. The women have since served five months in prison for making false statements for firearms dealers.

U.S. District Senior Judge Marcia Krieger was not persuaded by mitigating factors offered by LaFond’s attorney, including a terrible childhood and significant health issues.

She said although LaFond had not deserved his hardships, he all the same had a choice when it came to engaging in illegal conduct, which for LaFond, spanned roughly 30 years prior to his federal case.

LaFond, 49 at the time of sentencing, picked up a felony conviction at age 19 — a drug offense that, per a transcript of the sentencing, Krieger said had started “a thematic progression through his life. Thirty years later, he’s still selling drugs.”

The judge said LaFond’s criminal history includes a “drum beat” of multiple drug offenses, vehicular eluding, false statements and theft.

“This conviction, however, is more serious than any of the prior convictions, both by the fact that it involved the possession of firearms and also the fact that it involved others in a conspiracy which Mr. LaFond directed, led or inspired,” Krieger said, per the transcript.

“And it is more serious because this scheme of straw purchasing was set up and operated when he was out on bond in another case out of California.”

She acknowledged LaFond’s abusive childhood, mental health issues and physical ailments.

“There comes a point in which the baggage that we carry from our childhoods, we either continue to carry it, or we drop it, and I am not inclined to excuse behavior at age 49 based upon a decision not to address the issue that causes Mr. LaFond the problems that he suffers from,” Krieger said.

LaFond’s method of dealing with his issue was to use drugs, she said, also declining to impose less time based on speculation over how long he might live, due to his medical issues.

“This is an extremely serious offense … Mr. LaFond has a profound disrespect for the law and has repeatedly broken the law, not only in selling drugs, but also in stealing property, eluding arrest and jeopardizing the safety of the public,” Krieger said.

She imposed the 17.5 years requested by prosecutors, but granted his request to be evaluated for placement within one of the federal prison bureau’s major medical facilities.

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