BUTTE — Local, state, and federal law enforcement busted a major drug distribution operation that involved dozens of drug dealers from Butte and the Butte area with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.
“With convictions in each of these cases, the people with men and their agents have quite literally saved people’s lives by ending this drug trafficking organization,” said U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich.
In a news conference in Butte, the U.S. Department of Justice praised an investigation that resulted in 22 convictions of most Butte drug dealers with ties to the Sinalao Cartel. Officials call it one of the largest federal drug trafficking probes that brought more than 2,000 pounds of meth and 722,000 fentanyl-laced pills from Mexico to Butte.
“It is staggering to me the meteoric rise of just how fast the quantities have grown really within about the last year and a half,” said Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.
The investigation had been ongoing for about eight months. It started from a tip from a local resident. Sheriff Ed Lester said this case proves that tips are valuable to police work. He had a message for drug traffickers.
“Southwest Montana is a dangerous place to do your business, so find someplace else to go. We’ll take your cars, we’ll take your house, will take your drugs, your money, your guns, and last of all, we’ll take your freedom,” said Lester.
Just one small example of some of the firearms seized during this operation includes an AR-15-style pistol. What makes this particularly heinous is that it’s small and compact but it has the firepower of an assault rifle.
“I want to thank all the people, the agents, the officers, the troopers who literally put their ass on the line to stop vehicles with these guns in the vehicle,” said Lester.
Agents said this case is just the tip of the iceberg and there’s more work to be done.