Montana Federal Court Report: Drug Smuggling and Illegal Firearms
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - A commercial truck driver from Canada admitted to a cocaine trafficking crime this week after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found approximately 30 kilograms of cocaine in watermelon pallets as the female driver was attempting to enter Canada at the Montana border, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.
42 year-old Kareshmaa Kaur Jagroop of Ontario, Canada, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine as charged in a superseding information. Jagroop faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and at least three years of supervised release.
30 Grams of Cocaine Discovered in Truck from Canada
The government alleged in court documents that in July 2021, a commercial truck was northbound on Interstate 15 near the Sweetgrass Port of Entry in Toole County. As it approached the border in the outbound lane, Customs and Border Protection officers signaled the truck to stop, but the driver ignored the signal and continued past the outbound booth. Officers conducted a manual search and unloaded the contents with a forklift. Officers removed two pallets of watermelons and saw a plastic bag that contained approximately 30 kilograms, which is about 66 pounds, of cocaine. She eventually admitted that she was hauling cocaine for a group in Canada.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Starnes is prosecuting the case. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
Mad Admits to Methamphetamine Trafficking in Billings
In Billings Federal Court, a Crow Agency man who admitted to trafficking methamphetamine as part of a large, multiple-state conspiracy that was based on the Crow Indian Reservation was sentenced today to five years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
30 year-old Jeffrey Prettypaint pleaded guilty in September 2023 to possession with intent to distribute meth.
In court documents and in court, the government alleged that federal law enforcement, in a collaborative effort with local and tribal law enforcement, investigated a large-scale, multiple-state narcotics trafficking organization that was centered on multiple properties on the Crow Indian Reservation. The properties, including one known as Spear Siding, were a source of supply of meth for both the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations and the Billings community from about January 2022 to March 2023. Prettypaint is one of approximately two dozen defendants charged in the conspiracy and was considered to be in the mid-level of the conspiracy.
The government alleged that Prettypaint was directly involved with major players above him in the drug distribution ring and could go to Spear Siding and other property to get meth.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.
Missoula Man Sentenced for Illegal Firearms Possession
A Missoula man with felony convictions was sentenced this week in federal court to two years and six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally possessing firearms, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
42 year-old Heath Lynn Schmoeckel pleaded guilty in September 2023 to two counts of prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
In court documents, the government alleged that in January 2022, law enforcement responded to a single vehicle crash and located Schmoeckel in a ditch near Interstate 90. Officers located a bandana containing a pistol nearby. Schmoeckel told officers he took the pistol from the crash and tried to dispose of it. The government further alleged that in August 2022, Montana probation officers responded to Schmoeckel’s workplace, examined his vehicle and saw an AR-15 rifle on the passenger seat. Schmoeckel had the keys to the vehicle in his possession. In both instances, Schmoeckel was on supervision for prior felony offenses. Schmoeckel was prohibited from possessing firearms because of two state convictions for felony drug crimes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Lowney prosecuted the case. The Montana Highway Patrol, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Missoula Police Department and Montana Probation and Parole conducted the investigation.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided.
KGVO thanks Public Affairs Officer Clair Howard for authoring the press releases attached in these stories.
The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable
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