An impressive group of Montana’s senior law enforcement professionals gathered in the Montana U.S. Attorney’s office in Missoula on Thursday to promote the dramatic results of the ‘Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative’.

U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme introduced members from local law enforcement, along with representatives from the Montana Highway Patrol, The Division of Criminal Investigation, Probation and Parole, U.S. Marshal’s Service, ATF, DEA, FBI and Homeland Security. Each agency has signed on to work together to eliminate the scourge of meth and violent crime.

“PSN Missoula, Project Safe Neighborhoods launched in April and all the law enforcement agencies you see here lined up began efforts to focus on violent crime in the community,” said Alme.

County Attorney Kirsten Pabst began by recalling several high profile drug-related crimes in the Missoula area over the past three years.

“For four days in 2015, Scott Price and Sarah McKnight went on a meth-fueled murderous crime spree,” began Pabst. “Right before Christmas in 2016, Emmanuel Gomez, addicted to methamphetamine murdered his girlfriend and dumped her body in Pattee Canyon. In April of 2017, a Missoula County jury convicted Erik Nugent for drugging girls as young as 12 years old with meth and other drugs before sexually assaulting them. Then, last summer, two adults were arrested and accused of killing a young man and a young female over drugs and dismembering their bodies.”

Pabst pointed out a significant rise in violent crime in recent years.

“Meanwhile, she said. “Our child protective cases are skyrocketing. The connection between violence, drugs and a parenting crisis cannot be overstated.”

 

U.S. Attorney Alme said in Billings, these efforts have been bearing fruit.

“Already we’ve had two incidents,” he said. “One involved a confidential informant who wanted to make a drug deal, but the dealer said he didn’t want to come to Billings because ‘It’s too hot right now.’ We also had a debriefing of the number two person from one of the cartels. He talked about the leader of the cartel leaving Montana because, once again, ‘it’s too hot there right now’. We also so need to attack this from the demand side, keeping people from becoming addicted and helping those who are addicted.”

Attorney General Tim Fox had a message for those involved in illegal activities in the state.

“To those criminals who are taking advantage of these vulnerabilities, I have a message, ‘you are not safe. We are coming for you, we will find you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”