Commercial truck driver admits trafficking charge after trying to haul approximately 30 kilos of cocaine across Montana border into Canada
MISSOULA—Three Montanans accused of trafficking fentanyl in the Missoula and Helena communities admitted to charges today, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Nikolas Loren Pellant, 34, and Lynsi Noel Barnes, 32, both of Missoula, and Beau James Breneman, 44, of Helena, each pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. The defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and at least three years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing for Barnes and Breneman was set for March 28, 2024, while sentencing for Pellant was set for March 29, 2024 before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. All the defendants were detained pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that in October 2022, federal agents intercepted a package that contained more than 300 fentanyl pills and was addressed to Pellant. Officers arrested Pellant when he accepted the package in a controlled delivery. The investigation determined that Pellant and his girlfriend, Barnes, had been selling fentanyl in the Missoula are for several months and that they acquired the drug through the mail and by making weekly trips to Spokane, Washington. The government further alleged that in January, the Montana Highway Patrol stopped Barnes as she was returning from one such trip and seized more than 450 fentanyl pills and other evidence of drug distribution from her vehicle.
In addition, the government alleged that in January 2022, law enforcement received reports of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in Lewis and Clark County. An investigation determined that co-defendant Breneman was distributing heroin laced with fentanyl and that he had warned at least one customer to use small and diluted quantities of the drug because it was dangerous. Breneman admitted to distributing heroin laced with fentanyl. On May 31, Breneman and Barnes were passengers in a vehicle that was stopped in Shoshone County, Idaho. Law enforcement searched the car and found more than 300 fentanyl pills. Officers also found a plastic bag containing more fentanyl pills concealed on Breneman’s person.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter is prosecuting the case. The Missouri River Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Service, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and Shoshone County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.
Clair J. Howard
Public Affairs Officer