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Federal jury convicts Billings man of trafficking meth



Missoula, Montana – U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today that a federal jury found a Billings man guilty of illegally possessing ammunition and over 50 grams of pure methamphetamine that was concealed in false bottom cans on Wednesday.

Shane Edward Johnson, 54, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with purpose to distribute meth, possession with intent to distribute meth, and being a prohibited person in possession of ammunition by the jury following a two-day trial that started on July 10. On conviction for the conspiracy, Johnson will be sentenced to a required minimum of 15 years to life in prison, a $20 million fine, and at least 10 years of supervised release.

Judge Dana L. Christensen of the US District Court presided. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors will be taken into account by the court when determining any punishment. On December 6, a judgment was scheduled. Johnson was held in custody while more action took place.

“The jury’s decision is again another illustration of how our office works to hold those who want to contaminate our communities with drugs—in this case, methamphetamine—responsible. Because Johnson and other similarly dangerous drug dealers won’t be operating on our streets for a while, these convictions make Laurel and Billings safer. U.S. Attorney Laslovich expressed his gratitude to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie R. Patten and Zeno B. Baucus, as well as the FBI, Billings Police Department, and Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office for their work in investigating and prosecuting this case.

The prosecution claimed that Johnson, who has a past federal narcotics conviction, plotted to distribute meth in the Laurel and Billings communities between approximately April 2020 and October 2021 in court documents and during the trial. Law authorities detained an item that was being sent from California to Laurel via the USPS in October 2021. Four plastic candles containing two pounds of meth were discovered by officers after a search warrant was used to open the package. A co-defendant received the package after it was delivered under supervision by law officers to a Laurel residence. Johnson and the co-defendant were present when law enforcement arrived at the house to carry out a search warrant. Agents discovered Johnson’s rucksack, which was laden with two loaded pistol magazines, baggies of meth, a digital scale, and about $1,000. Due to a prior felony conviction, Johnson was not allowed to possess ammunition.

Julie R. Patten and Zeno B. Baucus, two assistant US attorneys, are in charge of the prosecution. The inquiry was carried out by the U.S. Postal Service, FBI West, Billings Police Department, and Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that unites all branches of law enforcement with the communities they serve in order to lessen violent crime and gun violence and make our neighborhoods safer for all residents, is involved in this case. On May 26, 2021, the Department unveiled a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN that was built on the following guiding principles: fostering legitimacy and trust in our communities, aiding community-based organizations that work to stop violence before it starts, prioritizing focused and strategic enforcement, and tracking outcomes.

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