NewsCrime Watch


Lodge Grass man sentenced to 15 years in prison for meth trafficking on Crow reservation

Posted at 3:09 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 15:39:11-04

(news release from U.S. Attorney's Office)

BILLINGS — A Lodge Grass man who admitted running a large-scale, multi-state methamphetamine trafficking organization from his home on the Crow Indian Reservation and beating a woman with a weapon was sentenced today to 15 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

The defendant, Wendell Monroe Lefthand, 55, pleaded guilty in December 2023 to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Lefthand also pleaded guilty in a separate case to assault of a spouse resulting in substantial bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. The court sentenced Lefthand to 15 years in prison and five years of supervised release for the drug conviction and to four years in prison and three years of supervised release for the assault convictions, with the sentences to run concurrent to each other.

In the drug trafficking case, the government alleged that beginning in June 2022, federal law enforcement, in a collaborative effort with local and tribal law enforcement, conducted a large-scale investigation centered on multiple properties on the Crow Indian Reservation. The properties, including one referred to as Spear Siding, were a source of supply of meth for both the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian reservations and elsewhere. Lefthand was one of the major players affiliated with the investigation, and Spear Siding was his family residence.

The government further alleged that of 26 defendants related to the investigation, Lefthand is at the top portion of the conspiracy, along with his sister and co-defendant, Frederica Lefthand. Until his arrest in June 2022 on another matter, Lefthand was the person running the operation with an individual, identified as co-defendant 1, and supplied a significant portion of the meth sold on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian reservations and in neighboring cities and towns. Although incarcerated for most of the investigation, Lefthand had been operating the drug trafficking ring from Spear Siding long before his arrest and played a significant role even after his arrest. Lefthand had a previous Washington source, who introduced him to co-defendant 1. When co-defendant 1 moved onto the Spear Siding property, business started booming. In addition, the government alleged that Lefthand was selling one pound of meth per week and possessed firearms. Investigators learned there were usually 30 to 50 firearms on the Spear Siding property and that Lefthand acquired them by trading drugs for guns. Frederica Lefthand was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison for her conviction in the case.

In the assault case, the government alleged that on April 4, 2021, Lefthand struck the victim, identified as Jane Doe, with an iron bar after a night of consuming alcohol on property outside of Lodge Grass, on the Crow Reservation. Jane Doe’s adult daughter and two minor children witnessed the assault, and all four ran from the property and hid in a ditch before flagging down a ride. Jane Doe was treated for injuries a few days later.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the drug trafficking case. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lori Harper Suek and Kelsey Hendricks prosecuted the assault case. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and FBI conducted the investigation.

Related: Montana's U.S. attorney identifies drug-trafficking organization on Crow Reservation