Wilkes facing new drug charges
Tyler Wilkes at a September 2021 appearance in Lincoln County District Court. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)
Daily Inter Lake | December 17, 2021 7:00 AM
A local man accused of aiding a pair of drug dealers sell methamphetamine in Libby over the summer faces new charges in Lincoln County District Court.
Authorities arrested Tyler Jay Wilkes, 32, on Dec. 5 after he allegedly dropped a drug-laden bag in a local lodging house. Prosecutors brought him up on a felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia charges following the incident.
In an affidavit, Libby Police officer Ian Smith wrote he arrived at the West Ninth Street inn about 8:43 a.m., responding to a drug report. He met with an employee, who brought up a video of a man — identified by Smith as Wilkes in the court documents — dropping a bag from his pocket.
Smith wrote that he recognized Wilkes from previous encounters. He also got a detailed description of Wilkes’ vehicle, which he recognized as well, from the lodging house employee.
After showing the video, the employee turned the bag, which contained a white crystalline substance, over to Smith. The substance later tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine, Smith wrote in the affidavit.
About an hour and a half later, the employee called Smith: Wilkes was back. Smith returned to the scene and arrested Wilkes, according to court documents. During a search, the police officer found a glass pipe containing a white residue, court documents said.
Smith wrote that when he tested the residue, it similarly came back presumptively positive for methamphetamine.
Wilkes allegedly later admitted to ownership of the pipe. He was holding the bag, according to court documents, for another individual.
Wilkes has not yet been arraigned on the two new charges, which echo those he received after allegedly getting caught up in a drug ring in Libby over the summer. According to court documents, Wilkes traded a vehicle to two out-of-town dealers for drugs in late August. He later agreed to help the pair sell methamphetamine to locals, court documents said.
Detectives with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office quickly circled in on the two out-of-towners after getting a tip from a local informant. Patricia Stahl received a partially suspended seven-year sentence in November after striking a plea deal with prosecutors. Her accomplice, Jared Leichty, pleaded guilty in late November after securing an agreement. Prosecutors plan to recommend he serve three years with the state Department of Corrections.
Deputies arrested Wilkes in the early morning hours of Aug. 22, the day after they busted Leichty and Stahl. Deputy Derek Breiland found himself behind Wilkes’ vehicle about 12:31 a.m. Noticing an obstructed license plate and broken lights — and remembering that detectives were on the lookout for Wilkes — Breiland pulled the vehicle over.
Detectives soon joined Breiland at the scene of the traffic stop. While Breiland issued Wilkes a citation, Detective Brandon Holzer questioned him. Eventually, Wilkes relented to a search of his vehicle, court documents said.
The subsequent sweep turned up a pipe that investigators suspected was meant for methamphetamine, according to Breiland’s affidavit. A search of Wilkes’ body ended with authorities finding a scale covered with a crystalline substance in his pocket, court documents said.
Prosecutors later brought Wilkes up on a felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and a misdemeanor count of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges. Wilkes was in court Dec. 6 for an omnibus hearing.