By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Four people charged in connection with an alleged Rocky Boy drug ring were arraigned Wednesday in state District Court in Havre.
Donny Lynn Ferguson, 24, Gregory Denny, 31, Elias Solano, 37, and Jose Sanchez, 41, appeared before Judge Richard A. Simanton on charges of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, continuing criminal enterprise, and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Ferguson and Sanchez, who is a citizen of Mexico, are also charged with use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture for allegedly possessing cash that law enforcement believes is the proceeds from drug sales. Police said Sanchez is in the United States illegally.
The four, represented by public defenders, pleaded not guilty to all charges during the hearing. Ferguson remains jailed on $55,000 bail. Bail for Solano and Sanchez has been set at $100,000 each. Denny was released on bond after his bail was reduced from $50,000 to $5,000.
According to the charging documents, a Tri-Agency Task Force informant contacted an FBI agent on June 30 and reported that Ferguson was selling drugs on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. The informant told the agent that Ferguson, Denny, Sanchez, and another person who has not been charged went to the informant's house asking if they could "weigh drugs out," the document said.
The informant said he denied their request but observed about 2 pounds of marijuana packaged in plastic bags, 3 to 5 ounces of cocaine wrapped in cellophane and 2 pounds of methamphetamine in a large plastic tube, the charging document said.
Ferguson, who is on probation for prior drug offenses, was located in Havre and arrested. According to the charging document, she possessed about 3.5 grams of meth and $205 in cash when she was searched.
The FBI and U.S. Border Patrol located and arrested Sanchez and Solano on the reservation. Solano, who is also from Mexico, had $2,036 on his person, the charging document said.
Other witnesses said in verbal or handwritten statements to the FBI on June 30 that Solano and Sanchez were selling meth from a Rocky Boy residence, according the charging document. The owner of the residence allowed the two to stay at his home in exchange for meth. The owner was interviewed later that day. He told agents he had seen Solano and Sanchez smoking meth in his camper and that he had smoked marijuana with them on several occasions, the document said.
Witnesses told agents that Denny and Ferguson purchased meth from the two Mexican men on numerous occasions and redistributed it to other people, the charging document said. One witness said he was "fronted" meth by Sanchez and Solano for the purpose of selling, according to the charging document.
Another said he heard a conversation among Denny, Sanchez and Solano in which the two Mexicans stated Denny owed them payment for 8 ounces of meth, the charging document alleged.
The owner of the residence where Ferguson was arrested allowed the FBI to search her home. According to the charging document, agents found syringes in Ferguson's shaving kit and a pipe with methamphetamine residue.
Task force agent Jerry Nystrom said the continuing criminal enterprise charge is the state's equivalent of a federal conspiracy charge.
The penalty for the offense is between one year and life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Montana law does not allow for the sentence to be waived or suspended.