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Libby man charged with drug crimes

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | January 13, 2023 7:00 AM

A joint law enforcement operation led to the recent arrest of a Libby man suspected of trafficking drugs.

Kevin J. Michael Simmons is facing felony charges of possessing methamphetamine and fentanyl. He was also charged with three misdemeanors, including resisting arrest, driving without a valid license and driving without tail lights.

Simmons appeared in court on Dec. 19 and pleaded not guilty to each charge. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 27.

According to the charging document filed by Lincoln County Deputy Attorney Jeff Zwang, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Larson wrote he was working a joint operation with the U.S. Border Patrol and Northwest Montana Drug Task Force. Larson said he was informed by drug task force agents that a vehicle was suspected of distributing dangerous drugs.

Larson wrote that he saw the vehicle driving west on U.S. 2 near Libby. After the vehicle turned on to Minnesota Avenue, he saw it had a cracked left, rear tail light. He stopped the vehicle. When he spoke to Simmons, the man allegedly said he did not have a driver’s license. A passenger in the car, Danika Winn, said she was licensed.

Larson asked Simmons to get out of the car. Simmons told Larson that he and Winn had left a gas station where they got food. He also said he and his passenger were heading home. Trooper Seth Adams, who had arrived to assist, told Larson that Winn told him they were heading to McDonald’s. Adams said Winn became defensive and swore at him, according to the court document.

Larson wrote warnings to Simmons for the traffic violations and then checked the vehicle identification number. Adams told Larson that Winn was making conflicting statements about the evening. Larson then spoke with Winn and asked her for permission to search her vehicle.

Larson wrote that he told Winn he had information that dangerous drugs were being distributed from the vehicle. Winn allegedly refused permission to search. Larson reported that Simmons and Winn were both told they could leave, but the vehicle was not free to go.

Adams then deployed his drug detection K-9. Larson wrote that Simmons began to get agitated and wanted to record the interaction. Larson gave Simmons permission but said it had to be done from a safe place away from the K-9.

K-9 Harry then indicated on the vehicle and Simmons became more agitated and asked if he could leave, according to Larson’s report. Larson told Simmons he was being detained pending a drug investigation. Larson reported that Simmons became argumentative when he placed one arm behind his back, then allegedly pulled away and tried to flee.

Larson wrote that he tackled Simmons on the side of the road while the defendant refused commands while on the ground. Agents from the drug task force helped Larson put handcuffs on Simmons.

The agents then sealed the vehicle with evidence tape pending the application of a search warrant. Larson wrote that after he got a search warrant from District Judge Matt Cuffe, he found a substance suspected to be methamphetamine and 1 1/2 pills suspected to be fentanyl as well as a $1,000 cash band.

Winn was contacted and told she could get her vehicle, which she did.