Federal jury convicts Billings man of trafficking meth
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana
MISSOULA — A federal jury on Tuesday convicted a Billings man accused of possessing over 50 grams of pure methamphetamine for resale hidden in false bottom cans and illegally possessing ammunition, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.
After a two-day trial that began on July 10, the jury found Shane Edward Johnson, 54, guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth, possession with intent to distribute meth and prohibited person in possession of ammunition. Johnson faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in prison, a $20 million fine and at least 10 years of supervised release on the conspiracy conviction.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factor. Sentencing was set for Dec. 6. Johnson was detained pending further proceedings.
“The jury’s verdict is yet another example of our office’s efforts to hold accountable those who seek to poison our communities with drugs, in this instance, methamphetamine. These convictions make Laurel and Billings safer, as another dangerous drug dealer like Johnson won’t be on our streets for a long period of time. I am grateful to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie R. Patten and Zeno B. Baucus, along with the U.S. Postal Service, FBI, Billings Police Department and Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office for investigating and prosecuting this case,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.
In court documents and at trial, the government alleged that from about April 2020 until October 2021, Johnson, who has a prior federal drug conviction, conspired to distribute meth in the Laurel and Billings communities. In October 2021, law enforcement intercepted a package shipped through the U.S. Postal Service from California to Laurel. Officers executed a search warrant on the package and found two pounds of meth inside four plastic candles. Law enforcement made a controlled delivery of the package to a Laurel residence, and a co-defendant took possession of the package. Law enforcement converged on the residence to execute a search warrant and encountered Johnson and the co-defendant. Agents located a backpack, belonging to Johnson, that contained baggies of meth, a digital scale, approximately $1,000 and two loaded handgun magazines. Johnson was prohibited from possessing ammunition because of his prior felony conviction.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie R. Patten and Zeno B. Baucus are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Postal Service, FBI West, Billings Police Department and Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer
Updated July 12, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-214
Project Safe Neighborhoods