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Press Release

Lame Deer meth trafficker sentenced to 20 years in prison for role in large-scale ring based on Crow Indian Reservation

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

BILLINGS — A Lame Deer man who admitted to distributing methamphetamine on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation that he received through a large-scale narcotics trafficking organization based on the Crow Indian Reservation was sentenced today to 20 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Joseph John Simpson, 49, pleaded guilty in September 2023 to possession with intent to distribute meth.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

“Armed with multiple firearms, including a submachine gun, Simpson was a prolific and dangerous drug dealer who trafficked nearly 10 pounds of meth on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. He was considered the best customer of an extensive drug conspiracy based on the Crow Reservation with ties to Washington traffickers and a cartel in Mexico. To put it simply, Simpson is dangerous, and the people of the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Nations can rest easier knowing he will spend the next 20 years in federal prison,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.

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 is one of approximately two dozen defendants related to a large-scale, multiple-state narcotics trafficking organization centered on multiple properties on the Crow reservation, including one referred to as Spear Siding. Simpson was considered the “best client” of the organization and was a “top dealer” of meth on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, along with being the source for other dealers. Simpson is responsible for the distribution of almost 10 pounds of meth, which is the equivalent of 36,240 doses. The government alleged Simpson was integral to the operation, partially because he made sure his sources got paid.

The government further alleged that on July 13, 2023, 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. Law enforcement arrested Simpson after a high-speed pursuit and found him in possession of two pounds of meth, $9,000 in cash and four firearms, including an Uzi submachine gun. Simpson told law enforcement that the $9,000 was drug proceeds.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuted 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 Affair Officer


Updated January 25, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-33