Billings man admits firearms crimes related to drug trafficking on Fort Peck Reservation
GREAT FALLS – A Billings man on Tuesday admitted to illegally possessing firearms after he was arrested last year on suspicion of driving under the influence on the Fort Peck Reservation, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Gabriel Hazard, 35, pleaded guilty to prohibited person in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Hazard faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided and detained Hazard pending further proceedings. Sentencing is set for Nov. 27, 2019.
The prosecutor said in court documents that law enforcement arrested Hazard for driving while under the influence after a Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputy saw a vehicle, driven by Hazard, going significantly slower than the speed limit on Highway 2 on the Fort Peck Reservation on Dec. 16, 2018. The deputy interacted with Hazard at the scene and observed that Hazard appeared to be under the influence of meth.
The officer looked into the vehicle and saw a pistol on the back seat, ammunition, a tactical-style vest, the grip of a handgun between the driver’s seat and center console, and a scale on the dash. Hazard had two rounds of ammunition in a pants pocket and a pistol holster on his belt. While Hazard was being booked into jail, an officer found a bag of meth in Hazard’s wallet. Officers executed a search warrant on the vehicle and found three firearms and ammunition.
The investigation determined Hazard was aware there were three firearms in his vehicle, that he used the guns for protection, and had sold meth on the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations. Because of a prior felony conviction, Hazard was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassady Adams is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Peck Tribes law enforcement.
The case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.