Fighting drug trafficking in Montana: Patrolling the I-90 corrid - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Fighting drug trafficking in Montana: Patrolling the I-90 corridor

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BOZEMAN - Montana’s major interstates are used for more than just traveling. Interstate 90 links the west coast and the east coast, cutting right through Montana.

“I would say that on a weekly basis we’re interdicting, our Highway Patrol troopers, deputies, officers are making traffic stops and finding drugs,” said Division of Criminal Investigation’s Bryan Lockerby.

Law enforcement officers patrolling these roads rely on traffic stops to find dangerous drugs, but these stops have become more and more dangerous. 

“Particularly the organized crime individuals, they tend to be very violent. They tend to have guns and firearms, and they want to hurt people,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.

The people transporting these drugs are in it for the money. And the further east these drugs get, the more they are worth. 

“The further east the marijuana migrates, the higher the value,” said Lockerby.

Marijuana is usually not meant to be distributed in Montana, but heroin and methamphetamine are.

“We’re just getting flooded with methamphetamine,” Lockerby said. “What used to be ounce dealers are now pound dealers. It doesn’t take that much money to invest into getting started to be a dope dealer because the cartels have cut the prices so low, they really want to saturate that market and that’s what they’re doing.”

The latest drug to be transported that is even more dangerous for law enforcement and something Montanans do not want coming into their community: fentanyl.

A drug that has been responsible for overdoses in Butte and other parts of the state, fentanyl is so dangerous troopers and deputies have stopped field testing it.

“If you are addicted to an opiate--heroin, whatever it may be--you want something laced with fentanyl because it’s the strongest thing available,” said Criminal Interdiction Commander Jim Sanderson.

Patrols will continue to work the major interstates stopping drug traffickers, in turn keeping drugs out of Montana. 

“Anytime we take a significant load of drugs off the road, there is a significant possibility that several people may not try drugs for the first time because it’s not available to them,” Sanderson said.

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