Three Canadian men have been accused of trying to smuggle more than a $1 million worth of cocaine and ecstasy through the remote Yaak River region of Lincoln County.
Kristopher Glenn Pfeifer and Preston Frederick Lahmer were charged in U.S. District Court in Missoula with felony conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute a schedule one controlled substance. Matthew Desmond Browne was charged with one count of felony conspiracy to possess controlled substance with intent to distribute and one count of felony possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges in court last month and attorneys representing them will appear in court this week for a pre-trial conference.
According to court documents, a Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over Browne for speeding on June 8 near Libby. During the traffic stop, Browne appeared extremely nervous and was shaking. Browne told the deputy that he was a British Columbia resident on vacation in the United States but he could not tell the officer one place he had visited on his trip.
The sheriff’s deputy then requested back up and a U.S. Border Patrol agent arrived with a K-9 dog. The dog alerted agents about something hidden in the back of the truck and upon further investigation the officers found a false truck bed, which contained 60 vacuum-sealed packages of cocaine worth over $1.3 million. Browne was placed under arrest.
Browne told law enforcement that he was taking the cocaine to the Yaak where he was supposed to meet other individuals who would load up the drugs in backpacks and smuggle it across the Canadian border on foot. He told officers that he had made five other trips from California to the Yaak to help move drugs across the border during the previous six weeks.
The following morning, federal agents drove Browne’s vehicle to the proposed meeting point in the Yaak. As they approached the meeting point, they saw a male wearing camouflage waving at them. When the male noticed that there was more than one person in the truck, he appeared to panic and started to run, dropping a 9mm handgun in the process. Federal agents went to where the man dropped the weapon and found three backpacks with 45 pounds of ecstasy that was to be delivered to Browne.
Law enforcement officers began to search the area for the men and eventually apprehended Kristopher Glenn Pfeifer and Preston Frederick Lahmer. Lahmer told the officers that they had been paid $10,000 to smuggle the drugs over the border and that they had been dropped off near the boundary by their handlers.
All three men remain detained.
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