Michigan man admits smuggling fentanyl on Rocky Boy Indian Reservation | USAO-MT

GREAT FALLS — A Michigan man suspected of working with others in the Detroit area to distribute fentanyl on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation today admitted to felony trafficking, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson,

Brandon Lamar Louis James, 22, of Southfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. James faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and at least three years of probation.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Sentencing was set for August 25. The court will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. James was released pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that in June 2021, the FBI was investigating a number of Detroit-area individuals suspected of distributing fentanyl on and around the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. The FBI executed a search warrant at John and Jane Doe’s residence on the reservation. Jane Doe was home and detained, but John Doe was not present. Jane Doe told officers there was another person in a room. The bedroom door was locked and no one responded to repeated commands to open it. Officers broke down the door and found and detained James. During a search of the residence, officers found an Aleve brand pill bottle containing an alleged mixture of Aleve pills and fentanyl pills. A Drug Enforcement Administration analysis found that 258 pills were legitimate Aleve pills and 179 pills contained fentanyl.

John Doe and Jane Doe both described helping several out-of-state fentanyl suppliers who traveled to the reservation to distribute drugs. They identified a particular individual who was from Detroit and had met him over a year earlier. The Detroit individual frequently contacted them to pick up or house others, who would travel to Montana with fentanyl pills and distribute them on the reservation. James had been one of those individuals they transported and housed at the request of the individual from Detroit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan R. Plaut is prosecuting the case, which has been investigated by the FBI, the Tri-Agency Task Force, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force of the Russell Country, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement Services.


Nohemi M. Moore