GREAT FALLS – A Helena woman accused of helping to bring pounds of methamphetamine from Las Vegas, Nevada, into Montana admitted to a drug trafficking crime today, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Rhonda Jeanette Lapier, also known as Rhonda Trench, 49, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute meth. Lapier faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Chief Judge Morris set sentencing for Feb. 16, 2022. Lapier was detained pending further proceedings.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that in May, Russell Country Drug Task Force officers executed a search warrant on a Great Falls residence, recovered meth and learned that the source of supply was traveling to Great Falls with meth. The investigation led to Lapier’s residence, where she and the source of supply were suspected of trafficking meth together. Officers ultimately stopped a vehicle being driven by the source of supply and found about 3.6 pounds of meth in the trunk. Officers also obtained a warrant to search Lapier’s residence. When told that officers were looking for illegal contraband in the residence, Lapier volunteered, “We’ll just make this easy, there is something in that house. But it belongs to me and I’ll show you where it’s at.” Officers located three, one-pound bags of meth and $6,132 in a bedroom where Lapier had been staying with another person. Individuals told law enforcement that several people, including Lapier, had gone to Las Vegas to pick up meth, had returned with six pounds and had dropped some of it off at Lapier’s residence. Six pounds of meth is the equivalent of 21,744 doses.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan R. Plaut is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Russell Country Drug Task Force, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, FBI, Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office and Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.
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