Stevensville man admits drug trafficking, firearm, money laundering crimes after investigators seize thousands of fentanyl pills in traffic stop; find pill-making equipment, materials on property
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana
MISSOULA — A Stevensville man admitted to drug trafficking, firearm and money laundering crimes after law enforcement seized thousands of fentanyl and methamphetamine pills from his vehicle in a Minnesota traffic stop and found pill-making equipment and materials on his Montana property, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Andrew Kyle Whittecar, 37, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, prohibited person in possession of a firearm and money laundering. Whittecar faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and at least four years of supervised release on the most serious crime.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing was set for Feb. 2, 2023. Whittecar was detained pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that on April 27, Whittecar was the driver and sole occupant of a red Cadillac when the Minnesota Highway Patrol stopped him near Alexandria, Minnesota. The trooper developed reasonable suspicion that Whittecar was trafficking drugs and searched the vehicle. During the search, the trooper located $3,000 in cash, three grams of cocaine and 75 blue pills labeled “M30,” which lab testing determined to be fentanyl, in the center console. In the trunk was a loaded Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun and an additional loaded magazine. And in the covered spare wheel well was an ammunition box containing vacuum-sealed packages of pills. In total, there were 5,096 blue “M30” pills, which contained fentanyl, and 1,000 orange pills, which contained meth.
In addition, the government alleged Whittecar advised that he had been working with several coconspirators to distribute the pills, which appeared to be Adderall and Percocet, but he knew contained meth and fentanyl, respectively.
The government further alleged that the Drug Enforcement Administration, after receiving a tip, searched a 40-acre parcel of property Whittecar owned near Stevensville. Agents found a backhoe abutting the entrance to a storage container. Inside the container were two pill presses, along with dyes, chemicals and other substances indicating the production of counterfeit pills consistent with those found in the Minnesota traffic stop. There also was a jar containing 240 grams of fentanyl and a plastic baggie containing another 161 grams of fentanyl.
While in custody, Whittecar called family members and directed them to items buried on the property he referred to as “hay.” DEA agents conducted an additional search and, approximately 10 feet underground below a pile of hay, they discovered a large plastic container and two plastic five-gallon buckets. The storge items contained additional chemicals, powders and liquids. Agents searched another storage unit used by Whittecar and found multiple boxes containing various lab equipment consistent with use in the synthesis of chemical materials. DEA forensic chemists determined that the items and equipment seized included precursors required for fentanyl production.
Additionally, a search of Whittecar’s three cell phones found what appeared to be coded language for drug production and distribution. Whittecar’s bank records reflected several large cash deposits and withdrawals. Whittecar was last employed in 2018 and did not have any apparent business accounts reflecting self-employment.
The government also alleged that Whittecar was convicted of three federal felonies in 2009 and was prohibited from possessing firearms.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot and Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the DEA, Minnesota State Patrol, West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.
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
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer
Updated October 13, 2022
Press Release Number: 22-248
Project Safe Neighborhoods