Law enforcement officials in Valley County arrested 15 people Wednesday in a series of drug busts across the county after nine months of investigations.
Dubbed Operation High Tide, officers served the felony arrest warrants in Glasgow, Hinsdale, St. Marie and Nashua, and several more are pending, Sheriff Glen Meier said.
The arrests came from a number of investigations involving the distribution, sale and possession of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription drugs, Meier said.
The sheriff’s office worked with the Big Muddy River Drug Task Force, which is funded by the Montana Board of Crime Control, and the Montana Highway Patrol on the investigations and arrests.
In all, 11 officers arrested two females and 13 males between 6 and 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Meier said there “is some association” between some of the people arrested, but that the activity wasn’t all part of one or two large rings.
“We were well-prepared and everything went down as planned,” he said.
Meier said in a press release that “the arrest warrants will have a large impact on the illegal drug distribution and use in Valley County.”
The names of those arrested were not immediately available.
However, a review of the charges on which they were arrested shows numerous accusations of felony distribution — including one person accused of 16 counts of felony distribution of meth, marijuana and prescription drugs — and possession.
Other charges include carrying illegal drugs on a train, possession with intent to distribute, distribution by accountability and misdemeanor possession.
Meier said all of the suspects are scheduled to make their initial appearances in Justice Court in Glasgow on Thursday morning.
The arrests are the culmination of nine months of hard work, including undercover operations, by sheriff’s deputies. “It just takes a lot of investigation, a lot of patience,” Meier said. “There’s a lot of ups and downs, a lot of times when you just don’t get what you were looking for.”
Officials in Valley County have noticed a recent uptick in the use of prescription drugs, especially by youth, which was part of the reason for Wednesday’s arrests.
“Attorney General Steve Bullock said it’s a real problem in the state of Montana, and we did notice it up in this county,” Meier said. “It seems like it’s easier for an underage person to go buy marijuana, meth or prescription drugs that it is a six-pack of beer.”
County Attorney Nickolas Murnion and Meier asked in the release that people in Valley County “assist in taking back their communities by reporting any suspicious activity or drug-related information directly to the sheriff’s office.”