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Press Release

Lame Deer man admits meth trafficking role in large-scale ring based on Crow Indian Reservation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

BILLNGS — A Lame Deer man admitted on Monday to distributing methamphetamine on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation that he received through a large-scale narcotics trafficking operation based on the Crow Indian Reservation, U.S. Jesse Laslovich said today.

Joseph John Simpson, 49, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute meth. Simpson faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life imprisonment, a $10 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided. A sentencing date will be set before U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Simpson was detained pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that from May 2022 to July 2023, law enforcement obtained information from multiple sources that Simpson was distributing meth on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and elsewhere. Simpson was affiliated with a large-scale, multiple-state narcotics trafficking operation centered on multiple properties on the Crow reservation, including one referred to as Spear Siding. Spear Siding was a source of meth for individuals, including Simpson.

The government further alleged that on July 13, a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer in Lame Deer observed a pickup truck that appeared to be stolen and was driven by an individual, later identified as Simpson. The officer pulled behind the truck, but it fled. The truck was stopped, and Simpson was taken into custody. Simpson had meth, a glass pipe and $328 on his person. The officer also observed four firearms and ammunition in the truck. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on the truck and found a duffle bag containing Simpson’s tribal identification card, approximately one pound of meth, a scale caked with possible meth residue, multiple plastic baggies and $305 in cash. Officers also found a submachine gun and a lockbox containing $9,120 in cash and an additional pound of meth.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys are prosecuting the case. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI 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 J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated September 26, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 23-361