The U.S. Marshals' Montana Violent Offender Task Force is searching for Dan Nichols, one of the infamous Mountain Men who gained notoriety in the early 1980s for kidnapping an Olympic athlete and holding her hostage, after receiving on Wednesday morning a federal warrant accusing him of numerous drug crimes.
Chief Deputy Rod Ostermiller said the federal indictment was unsealed Wednesday. It accuses Nichols of five federal crimes: conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana; manufacture of marijuana; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Two other men, Christopher Wayne Williams and Christopher J. Lindsey, face the same charges, minus the accusation of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Ostermiller said Nichols was involved in a drug operation that spanned much of Montana.
It included growing more than 100 marijuana plants in Helena, Miles City and Three Forks and distribution points in Billings, Helena, Miles City and Missoula, according to the indictment, which was issued by the U.S. District Court's Helena division.
The documents state that the men had 28 firearms, including pistols and semi-automatic and assault-style rifles, to protect their operations.
"At least $1,780,000 was received in exchange for the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances and is traceable thereto," according to the documents.
Officials in Jefferson County also issued a warrant for Nichols' arrest last month after he failed to show up for a pretrial hearing stemming from a drug arrest at last summer's Rockin' the Rivers concert series in Three Forks.
In May 1985, Nichols and his father, Don Nichols, were convicted of kidnapping world-class athlete Kari Swenson.
In that case, the elder Nichols abducted Swenson with the intent of marrying her to his son. Dubbed the Mountain Men, they held her captive in the mountains near Big Sky.
When a group of rescuers came upon their camp, Dan Nichols accidentally shot and wounded Swenson and Don Nichols shot and killed one of the rescuers.
They escaped into the surrounding woods and a five-month manhunt ensued. The ordeal ended when Johnny France, Madison County sheriff at the time, tracked them down and stormed their camp.
The elder Nichols remains in prison while Dan Nichols was paroled.
He is described as a white male weighing 150 pounds. He is 5 feet, 11 inches with blond hair and blue eyes and has a tattoo of a wolf and an orange sun on his left forearm.
Ostermiller asked that anybody who spots Nichols not approach him and immediately call local law enforcement.