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Lodge Grass woman sentenced to 24 years for leading role in reservation meth ring

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Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 07, 2024

BILLINGS — A Lodge Grass woman convicted in a large-scale, multi-state methamphetamine trafficking operation she ran from her home on the Crow Indian Reservation was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said in a press release.

Frederica Lefthand, 52, pleaded guilty in August 2023 to possession with intent to distribute meth and conspiracy to commit money laundering for her involvement in a drug ring that supplied drugs across the state and to four Montana Indian reservations, reports Four Points Press.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

“As a top-level dealer in this broad conspiracy, Lefthand is responsible for spreading staggering quantities of poison not only in her own community on the Crow Indian Reservation, but across Montana, including on the Northern Cheyenne, Fort Belknap, and Rocky Boy’s reservations.” Laslovich said. “Lefthand played a key role in obtaining meth from suppliers in Washington, recruited lower-level dealers, collected drug debts, and wired proceeds to an individual in Washington.

From 2007 to 2018, Lefthand served as the Dean of Academics at Little Big Horn College on the Crow Indian Reservation. From 2001 to 2007, she worked at Montana State University in Bozeman as part of the Caring for Our Own Program, which helps to support Native nursing students.

In court documents and statements in court, the government alleged that federal law enforcement, in a collaborative effort with local and tribal law enforcement, investigated a large-scale, multi-state narcotics trafficking operation that ran from January 2022 until March 2023 and was based on two properties on the Crow Indian Reservation, including Lefthand’s residence at Spear Siding, south of Lodge Grass.

Related: Montana U.S. attorney identifies drug-trafficking organization on Crow reservation

Lefthand was near the top of the conspiracy, only below a Washington source of supply identified as co-defendant 1. The investigation into Spear Siding activities began in June 2022 and has led to federal charges against 25 other defendants, including relatives like her daughter, Sayra Longfox, 25, who pleaded not guilty in October to conspiracy to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

A dozen of the defendants facing federal charges in the conspiracy have been convicted and sentenced.

“Lefthand essentially helped fuel a drug crisis among her own people and throughout the state,” said Shohini Sinha, Special Agent in Charge of the Salt Lake City FBI, said in the press release. “The FBI and our partners aim to target criminal enterprises and cut off the supply of illegal narcotics at the highest levels, so they don’t make it into our neighborhoods.”

Lefthand supplied a significant portion of the meth sold across the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Fort Belknap, and Rocky Boy’s Indian reservations and had operations in every reservation town as well as in Billings and Havre, according to court records.

Documents alleged Lefthand was the ringleader of the operation, which involved “pounds and pounds and pounds” of meth, the government said.

Lefthand worked directly with co-defendant 1 and managed the operation in Montana, dispensing drugs to lower-level dealers, collecting debts, organizing deals and recruiting others to help her make money. The home at Spear Siding was a hub of drug activity, and sources reported that Spear Siding would “never run out” of meth.

While traveling to Washington state with co-defendant 1, Lefthand attempted to recruit more “great distributors.” In an intercepted text message, Lefthand said:
“We will be back in business when we get back so start thinking about of few of your other peeps who might want to purchase or be great distributors. We will only be working with a few but will be considering other locations if you know what I mean jellybean!!! Maybe seven and ten if need be.”

Court records showed law enforcement conducted two controlled purchases of meth from Lefthand in September 2022. On April 1, 2023, law enforcement arrested Lefthand in a stolen vehicle following a pursuit and found her to be in possession of meth and a handgun. In addition, Lefthand made several wire transfers of money from drug transactions to an individual in Washington.

“She has earned this prison sentence and I am proud of our law enforcement partners and prosecutors who have brought her to justice,” Laslovich said.