Montana News

Mar 15, 2011 5:07 PM by US Attorney's Office

Information released on raids at 26 Montana medical marijuana businesses

One day after federal authorities raided numerous medical marijuana businesses across Montana, the U.S. Attorney's Office has released information about the incidents.

A total of 26 criminal search warrants were executed Monday at businesses in Belgrade, Big Sky, Billings, Bozeman, Columbia Falls, Dillon, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Miles City, Missoula, Olney and Whitefish, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The raids came after an 18-month multi-agency investigation into the "drug trafficking activities of criminal enterprises operating throughout the State of Montana," the release states. Seizure warrants for financial institutions in Bozeman, Helena, and Kalispell totaling up to $4 million were also executed.

"Twenty-six search warrants were carried out yesterday where there is probable cause that the premises were involved in illegal and large-scale trafficking of marijuana. When criminal networks violate federal laws those involved will be prosecuted," United States Attorney Michael Cotter said in the release.

The news release goes on to say that people with illnesses who are in compliance with state law are not the focus of the investigation.

According to the information, to date, no federal criminal charges, indictments, informations or complaints have been filed against any of the people named in the search warrants, civil seizure warrants and related documents.

The businesses that were targeted were believed to be in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, the release states.

The search warrants, civil seizure warrants, and related documents state that the properties identified were involved in some or all of the following violations of federal law:

- manufacture of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana

- distribution of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841

- conspiracy to commit the offenses of manufacture of marijuana

- possession with intent to distribute marijuana and distribution of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846

- structuring or assisting in structuring any transaction to evade currency reporting requirements or causing or attempting to cause a domestic financial institution to fail to file Currency Transaction Reports in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5324(a)(1) and (3)

The release goes on to state that marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 substance of the Controlled Substance Act and that, under federal law, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is in violation of that act.

"Because of the danger posed by Schedule I substances, the Department of Justice continues to focus its enforcement and investigative efforts in targeting large-scale drug organizations that cultivate, manufacture, distribute, or sell marijuana," the release states.

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