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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 29, 2014

Leader Of Bakken Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced To 20 Years In Federal Court

BILLINGS-A Washington man, who led a major drug trafficking organization that distributed large amounts of pure methamphetamine in Montana, particularly in the Bakken Region, was sentenced in federal court today for the offense of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Billings United States District Court Judge Susan P. Watters sentenced Robert Farrell Armstrong, also known as "Dr. Bob," to 240 months in prison, to be followed by a term of 5 years supervised release. Armstrong, 49, is from Moses Lake, Washington.

Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Thaggard and Brendan McCarthy prosecuted the case, which is a part of Project Safe Bakken. That project is an interagency effort by the United States Attorneys for Montana and North Dakota and the Attorneys General for Montana and North Dakota, as well as a number of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. It designed to fight crime in the Bakken Region of eastern Montana and western North Dakota. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Montana Division of Criminal Investigations (MDCI), Sidney Police Department, Sweet Grass Sheriff's Department, Montana Highway Patrol, and the United States Border Patrol participated in the investigation of Armstrong and his accomplices as part of "Operation Oil Patch Kids." Thus far, the investigation has resulted in the convictions of 19 individuals for federal crimes related to Armstrong's drug trafficking organization.

The conspiracy at the heart of the charges against Armstrong and his accomplices began in approximately April 2012 and continued until October 2013, when a federal grand jury in Montana returned indictments that charged Armstrong and his associates with federal drug trafficking and firearms offenses. In a court document filed prior to Armstrong's sentencing, Thaggard wrote:

By the summer of 2012, the Defendant was living in Sidney, Montana and distributing large amounts of essentially pure methamphetamine through a network of subordinate drug traffickers. The methamphetamine came from the state of Washington. Sometimes the Defendant and his accomplices obtained the drugs in Washington. At other times, they met the source of supply in places in western Montana, then transported the drugs to Sidney. At other times the drugs were delivered directly to Sidney. Some of the members of the conspiracy carried firearms. Others acted as enforcers who collected drug debts."

Michael Cotter, the United States Attorney for the District of Montana, praised the sentence, stating "This defendant and his associates damaged the social fabric of Montana by distributing large amounts of pure methamphetamine in our state. The sentence handed down to Mr. Armstrong today should send a clear message to those who seek to commit similar crimes that such conduct will not be tolerated. With the dismantling of Mr. Armstrong's drug trafficking organization, Montana is a safer place to live."

Because there is no parole in the federal system, Armstrong will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence before he is released from prison.

The case was investigated by the DEA, MDCI, Sidney Police Department, Sweet Grass County Sheriff's Office, Dawson County Sheriff's Office, and the United States Border Patrol.

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Updated January 14, 2015