Three Helena men arrested on fentanyl charges believed connected to overdoses

Law and Justice
Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 14:30:07-05

HELENA — Three Helena men are accused of conspiring to distribute heroin-laced Fentanyl, which law enforcement believes is connected to nine overdoses in 2022.

"This is an example of see something say something, and it results in a long investigation and arrests," said Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County, Leo Dutton.

The three arrested individuals are Jesse Al Belling, 41, Luke Allen Lingle, 42, and Beau James Breneman, 44.

 Jesse Belling
Luke Lingle
Beau Breneman

For two years, authorities have been investigating the case, which is still ongoing.

Dutton said, "You have to get information that is corroborated by either an informant; you have to have controlled buys where you get somebody either on audio or video dealing the drugs. We work back to find the source as far back as we can."

The three Helena men are accused of obtaining the drug from a man in Oregon.

According to the sheriff's office, "Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin."

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration says that "just two milligrams of fentanyl, small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially lethal dose."

Dutton was contacted by St. Peter's Health on January 19, 2022, about having nine patients who overdosed on what they thought was heroin but were laced with Fentanyl.

"If someone were to die and we can prove that that person sold that drug to them, then we could go after a homicide charge. The stuff's still under investigation," Dutton said.

Prosecutors may file additional charges or amend current charges, and other possible dealers are being investigated.

According to the sheriff's office, "in 2021, the Missouri River Drug Task Force had one fentanyl seizure of 15 pills, [and in 2023 they] Seized over 66,000 fentanyl pills."

The Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services at Lewis and Clark County, Kellie McBride, said, "We have been watching the number of overdose deaths, recognizing the issue with Fentanyl and the strength. Recognizing that it's in our community and what we feel the best thing that we can do is to get people on that path to treatment."

Criminal Justice Services at Lewis and Clark County offer free fentanyl test strips and Narcan, trying to prevent overdoses.

One defendant, Breneman, has already pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. He could face up to 40 years in prison and a 5 million dollar fine.

The other defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.