Massive Montana Drug Bust Puts 22 in Prison and Nets $3 Million
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - U.S. Attorney for the State of Montana, Jesse Laslovich, in an exclusive interview with KGVO News, said 22 individuals, many from Montana, with ties to the vicious Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, were convicted of drug crimes and received lengthy prison sentences.
Laslovich spoke to KGVO immediately after a press conference took place in Butte.
A Huge Drug Bust Puts Nearly Two Dozen in Federal Prison
“We were proud to announce today that we convicted 22 people over a period of time who were part of a large-scale drug trafficking organization that had ties to the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, which is one of the two cartels exclusively responsible for all of the mess and fentanyl that's flooding our country and our state,” began Laslovich.
Laslovich said the cartel was responsible for shipping massive amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl to Montana for sale and distribution.
A Massive Amount of Methamphetamine and Fentanyl were Seized
“There were over 2,000 pounds of meth that we conservatively estimate that this drug trafficking network was brought into just Butte alone to then be distributed throughout Southwestern Montana and then across the state, including in the Missoula area,” he said. “In addition to the meth, over 722,000 fentanyl-laced pills from Mexico that were brought to Butte that we estimate, and then as a result of all that about $3 million in money that was laundered in drug proceeds back to the cartel.”
Laslovich praised several law enforcement agencies that cooperated in the successful investigation.
“The investigation was led by our Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) partners in conjunction with the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, both of whom are here,” he said. “DCI is part of the state, and of course, DEA is a federal entity. The United States Postal Inspection Service was a part of this since a lot of the drugs and the money were being sent via the mail. And then ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) was a part of it, of course, and then the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force.”
This Case Proves 'If you See Something, Say Something'
Laslovich said the case was broken open after a Butte resident suspected that there was drug activity going on in his neighborhood, and reported that activity to Butte law enforcement.
“This case started because we had a tip from a resident here in Butte, who was concerned about what he was seeing and called the local sheriff's office, and that's how this started,” he said. “And so, as we say to our law enforcement folks, the boots on the ground who are risking their lives every day to keep us and our community safe, they can't do their work without people who are not in law enforcement who may see something, or witnessed something that is potential criminal activity, especially as it relates to drug trafficking, gun violence, and they should not hesitate to contact authorities.”
Here are the individuals from Montana who were prosecuted and convicted.
‘Montana defendants convicted:
Charles Clement, 36, of Butte – Conspiracy– 54 months in prison
Steve Shipe, 52, of Butte – Conspiracy – 60 months in prison
Jeremy Rivers, 45, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 60 months in prison
Dale Johnson, 27, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 46 months in prison
Michael Robert Lee, 25, of Helena – 46 months in prison
James Starcevich, 25, of Butte – Conspiracy – 5 years of supervision, 1 day in prison
Charles Petty, 34, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 120 months in prison
MaryJane Galloway, 37, of Butte – Deceased prior to sentencing
Shawn Miller, 33, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 60 months in prison
Josh Schroeder, 40, of Butte – Conspiracy – 188 months in prison
David Shaver, 34, of Butte – Conspiracy – 54 months in prison
David Viers, 59, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 12 months in prison
Opal Cox, 40, of Great Falls – Conspiracy – 144 months in prison
Travis Soderberg, 47, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 96 months in prison
Deric Sherman, 55, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 78 months in prison
Anthony Lamere, 33, of Butte – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 84 months in prison
Gloria Lucero, 54, of Great Falls – Possession with the Intent to Distribute – 64 months in prison
Clayton Cleland, 40, of Butte – Conspiracy – 54 months in prison.
Mexico defendants convicted:
Humberto Villareal, 34, Culiacan, Sinaloa – Possession with the Intent to Distribute - 204 months in prison
Ricardo Ramos Medina, 34, Culiacan, Sinaloa – Conspiracy – 96 months in prison