By Tim Eberly
A suspected methamphetamine dealer indicted last month by a federal grand jury has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court, the Tri-Agency Task Force said Wednesday.
Travis Hawk, 25 of Havre was one of seven members of a suspected drug ring the largest of its kind targeted since the FBI openend a bureau in Havre in 1997 indicted by a grand jury late in October.
Hawk is charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute meth and faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison, a $6 million fine and 11 years of supervised release if convicted. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 14.
Hawk and the six other suspected members of the ring are bonded by the individual who supplied all of them, the FBI said.
Though that individual has not been charged yet, the drug movement in Hill County has slowed significantly, Tri-Agency Task Force leader Jerry Nystrom said.
"It's going to take a major cut into the availability of drugs," Nystrom said. "But the sad thing about it is there's always somebody who's waiting to step in and take over."
Within the next two months, an indictment for the "general" of the drug ring is expected, the FBI said.
"It's a conspiracy case," Nystrom said. "They usually blossom. It's like a domino effect. Next thing you know, you've got 50 suspects you're indicting, once you figure out the whole chain."
Other area residents who were indicted are Corrina and Fabian "Juice" Saddler of Box Elder, Richard and Audrey Mae Bauer of Havre, Robert Douglass Healy III of Havre, and Gabe Lawrence of Havre. The Saddlers are husband and wife, Audrey Mae Bauer and Richard Bauer are siblings, and Audrey Mae Bauer is the common-law wife of Healy. Lawrence is related to the Bauers. All have pleaded not guilty in federal court to similar drug charges.
The Havre FBI refers to Hawk as a "lieutenant" a larger distributor in the drug ring.
"He is in the middle of the chain," Nystrom said. "He gets supplied by a larger dealer and he disperses it on the street."
Hawk is accused of distributing more than 100 grams of meth between January and May, according to the federal indictment. Members of the task force and FBI witnesses two transactions, Nystrom said. Hawk sold four grams of meth for $250 on May 8 and 4.2 grams for the same amount on May 21, he said. One transaction occurred in Legion Field Park, while the other took place in Beaver Creek Park, he added.
Hawk lived in Havre when he was younger but moved away for several years before returning, Nystrom said. At the time of his arrest, he was unemployed and lived on the 700 block of Third Street.
"He was (dealing meth) as a business," Nystrom said. "That was his main source of income."
Compared with smaller dealers, Hawk is suspected of distributing about 1 ounce of meth per week, Nystrom said. Drug dealers under Hawk moved about a half ounce every seven days.
"He was distributing a larger quantity than them on a regular basis," Nystrom said.
If you have information regarding the sell or purchase of drugs in Hill County, please contact the local FBI at 265-7181 or the task force at 265-1192.