MISSOULA—On Friday, May 22, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that after admitting to bringing methamphetamine into the Flathead Valley, a Californian woman was sentenced to six years in prison and five years of supervised release.

The 34-year-old Huntington Beach native, Kristal Patricia Leonard, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen to “possession with intent to distribute meth” in February this year.

Court filings show that near Lolo on September 19, 2019, Montana Highway Patrol officers searched a vehicle that Leonard had been driving, as part of an undercover surveillance operation. They found heroin and over 10 pounds of meth, which is equivalent to 36,240 doses. 

The Kalispell Police Department executed a search warrant on Leonard’s home and recovered firearms, more meth, and various other goods. A confidential source told law enforcement that Leonard distributed bulk amounts of meth around Lake and Flathead counties, and that she would make a few trips every month to pick up more for redistribution in Montana.

The matter falls under Project Safe Neighborhoods – a DOJ venture to reduce violent crimes by focusing on those driven by meth-trafficking, firearms offences, armed robbers, and offenders with outstanding warrants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Elliott prosecuted the case, while Homeland Security Investigations and the Northwest Drug Task Force investigated it.