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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 3, 2020

Armed meth trafficker on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation sentenced to prison

GREAT FALLS —A Box Elder man who admitted possessing a firearm while dealing methamphetamine on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation was sentenced today to 11 years and six months in prison and five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Issac Elias Saenz, 28, pleaded guilty in December to possession with intent to distribute meth and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

The prosecution said in court documents that in January 2018, a Rocky Boy's criminal investigator observed a vehicle, which had been reported stolen from Billings, at a residence on the reservation. The investigator saw the vehicle leave the residence, made a traffic stop and detained the driver and Saenz, who was a passenger in the front seat. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on the vehicle and found multiple bags containing a total of 60 grams of meth and a firearm under the front passenger seat. A DNA test determined there was a high likelihood that Saenz's DNA and the DNA of three unknown individuals were on the firearm. The investigation also determined that Saenz trafficked meth in Missoula County and near Box Elder in Hill County.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassady Adams prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement Services, the Tri-Agency Drug Task Force, and the Rocky Boy's Drug Task Force.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the USDOJ’s initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 36% from 2013 through 2018. Through these initiatives, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.

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Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer 406-247-4623
Updated September 3, 2020