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Three brought up on charges after detectives bust drug ring

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | September 21, 2021 7:00 AM

Authorities broke up a drug ring in the Libby area in late August, arresting three and seizing methamphetamine, heroin and a supply of drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.

In affidavits filed in Lincoln County District Court, detectives with the sheriff’s office reported tracking down two out-of-towners working off of an Aug. 21 tip from an informant. Detective Dan Holskey wrote that investigators learned a couple was selling “a large amount” of methamphetamine out of a Libby area lodging house and were driving a vehicle given to them by a local man.

Detective Brandon Holzer cruised through the parking lot of the lodge and located the vehicle matching the informant’s description. Running the registration, he found that the vehicle was linked to Libby resident Tyler Wilkes.

By the time Holzer met up with Holskey, the allegedly drug selling couple had moved on to a different hotel. The informant also told the detectives that the pair had contacted area drug dealers to help sell the methamphetamine, court documents said.

Heading to the new location, the detectives gave the informant money for a drug buy. They watched nearby as the individual entered a room before departing about five minutes later, according to the affidavit. The informant returned with “multiple grams” of a white, crystalline substance that tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine, according to Holskey’s affidavit.

The informant described how the alleged dealers weighed out the suspected methamphetamine, pulling it from “a gallon sized plastic bag,” court documents said.

The detectives secured a search warrant and entered the hotel room about 8:53 p.m. They took Patricia Stahl and Jared A. Leichty into custody before searching the area. The subsequent sweep turned up several pipes, baggies with methamphetamine, a scale, two syringes and two loaded syringes, cash, multiple car titles and four grams of heroin, court documents said.

In interviews at the Lincoln County Detention Center, Stahl and Leichty allegedly admitted to coming to Libby by train to sell drugs. Leichty told the detectives they were selling eight balls of meth for $150. Wilkes gave them the car in exchange for drugs and agreed to help sell methamphetamine for the pair, Leichty allegedly said.

He bought the methamphetamine in bulk in Washington and paid about $1,000 for a quarter pound — a little more than 113 grams — according to court documents.

Much of the money from the drug sales had gone to room and board as well as gambling, Leichty allegedly told the detectives.

The heroin was Stahl’s, her personal stash, he allegedly said.

Stahl corroborated much of Leichty’s information in a separate interview. She omitted the names of her buyers, but told the detectives she had secured the vehicle from Wilkes with drugs, court documents said.

She allegedly confirmed the heroin was hers, telling investigators that the drug was hard to come by in Libby.

Stahl, 35, and Leichty, 38, were later charged with criminal possession of drugs with intent to distribute as well as two counts of use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture. The former charge is punishable by 20 years with the Montana State Prison and a $50,000 fine. The latter charges carry a maximum punishment of 10 years behind bars and $50,000 fines.

A little after midnight, Deputy Derek Brieland of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office came across Wilkes in a white Ford Ranger. Spotting broken license plate lights and an obstructed license plate — and knowing that Holzer was on the lookout for Wilkes — Breiland made a traffic stop, court documents said.

After identifying Wilkes as the driver, Breiland waited on the detective to arrive. According to Breiland’s affidavit, the vehicle was registered to Wilkes’ employer, but Wilkes could not provide proof of insurance. While Breiland wrote up a warning, Holzer questioned Wilkes.

Eventually, Wilkes allowed Holzer to search the vehicle. According to court documents, the detective turned up a pipe for smoking methamphetamine. They later found a scale covered with a crystal-like substance on Wilkes, according to court documents.

Wilkes, 32, faces criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia charges in Lincoln County District Court. The former, a felony, is punishable by up to five years in the Montana State Prison and a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor paraphernalia charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in county jail and a $500 fine.

Stahl, Leichty and Wilkes all pleaded not guilty to the charges during their Sept. 13 arraignments in Lincoln County District Court.