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3 Montanans admit roles in trafficking fentanyl in Missoula, Helena

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Posted at 8:31 AM, Dec 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-01 10:31:32-05

MISSOULA — Three Montanans accused of trafficking fentanyl in the Missoula and Helena area admitted to charges on Thursday, November 30, 2023.

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich says Nikolas Loren Pellant, 34, and Lynsi Noel Barnes, 32, both of Missoula, and Beau James Breneman, 44, of Helena, each pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

The defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and at least three years of supervised release according to news release.

The prosecution alleged in court documents that in October 2022, federal agents intercepted a package that contained more than 300 fentanyl pills and was addressed to Pellant.

Officers arrested Pellant when he accepted the package in a controlled delivery.

The investigation determined that Pellant and his girlfriend, Barnes, had been selling fentanyl in the Missoula are for several months and that they acquired the drug through the mail and by making weekly trips to Spokane.

The government further alleged that in January, the Montana Highway Patrol stopped Barnes as she was returning from one such trip and seized more than 450 fentanyl pills and other evidence of drug distribution from her vehicle.

In addition, the government alleged that in January 2022, law enforcement received reports of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in Lewis and Clark County.

An investigation determined that co-defendant Breneman was distributing heroin laced with fentanyl and that he had warned at least one customer to use small and diluted quantities of the drug because it was dangerous, the news release states.

Breneman admitted to distributing heroin laced with fentanyl.

On May 31, Breneman and Barnes were passengers in a vehicle that was stopped in Shoshone County, Idaho.

Law enforcement searched the car and found more than 300 fentanyl pills. Officers also found a plastic bag containing more fentanyl pills concealed on Breneman’s person.

Sentencing for Barnes and Breneman was set for March 28, 2024, while sentencing for Pellant was set for March 29, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy.

All the defendants were detained pending further proceedings.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided over the case which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter.

The Missouri River Drug Task Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Service, the Montana Highway Patrol, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and the Shoshone County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.