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Drugs seized in raid represent large bust for local authorities

by Derrick Perkins Western News
| March 3, 2020 10:10 AM

The roughly 150 grams of suspected methamphetamine seized by local law enforcement during a raid of two homes Feb. 25 represents a significant bust for Lincoln County, officials said.

Undersheriff Brad Dodson said drug users usually possess less than three grams of the substance at a time, in his experience. He estimated the street value of a gram of methamphetamine at about $100.

“We’re talking about [roughly] a quarter pound of meth,” Dodson said. “It’s all relative, but for Lincoln County, you don’t see 150 grams.”

Authorities arrested James Alan Gring, 54, and Kristin Marie Louise Nelson, 39, both of Libby, following the raid. The pair face criminal possession with intent to distribute dangerous drugs charges.

Officials allegedly uncovered the drugs, methamphetamine pipes and a scale coated with residue in the homes. Dodson said the drugs presumptively tested positive for methamphetamine, but would go to the state crime laboratory for further analysis.

According to an affidavit filed in Lincoln County Justice Court, Deputy Bandon Holzer reported filing for a search warrant after learning that “large amounts of methamphetamine were being sold out” of the homes.

Deputies working alongside U.S. Border Patrol officials, police officers from Libby and members of the Northwest Drug Task Force launched the raid. Dodson declined to go into detail about the operation, but said the personnel involved were well trained.

They also carried more gear than they might normally, but Dodson said the officers were not wearing SWAT gear.

“It’s more to make sure that we can do it safely for us, safely for the people involved and then also so we can try and prevent people from escaping or destroying evidence,” he said. “We use the term ‘dynamic.’ It’s so we can be quick and efficient.”

Gring and Nelson’s four children were home when the raid occurred, court documents said. Dodson said the four were released into the custody of a family member and the state Child and Family Services Department was notified.

Dodson would not comment on the information that led to the raid.

“The guys did a good job; we’re proud of everybody,” he said. “It’s too bad that kind of quantity is in our community, but unfortunately that’s a reality. We’re going to continue to try and get that stuff off the street.”