Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Criminal search warrants issued in Missoula related to marijuana investigation (UPDATE)

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana today executed 12 criminal search warrants in Missoula, Whitefish, Kalispell and Somers, plus four civil seizure warrants for financial institutions in Missoula, as part of a 12-month multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking activities. A release from the office says the warrants were related to marijuana charges, including manufacture and possession with intent to distribute.

"Twelve new search warrants were carried out today because sufficient probable cause was established to support that the premises were involved in illegal and large-scale trafficking of marijuana," said U.S. District Attorney Michael Cotter in the release. "When criminal networks violate federal laws in Montana those involved will be prosecuted."

The release went on to specify that "Individuals with illnesses who are in clear and unambiguous compliance with state law are not the focus of this investigation."

It's unclear whether the criminal search warrants were executed at medical marijuana businesses or private residences. A request for more information was sent to the U.S. Attoney's Office, but a spokesperson wrote in an email that no additional comment would be provided at this time.

(UPDATE: The AP reports at least three caregiver businesses were searched, including Big Sky Health and Kind Caregivers in Missoula.)

Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir says Missoula Police were involved with the service of the warrants, but directed all questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to the release, no federal criminal charges have been filed yet. The following organizations took part in the investigation: the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff's Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, and the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition, these organizations assisted in the execution of the warrants: Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Kalispell Police Department, and the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force.

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