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Three Montanans sentenced trafficking fentanyl in Missoula, Helena areas

Russell Smith Courthouse
Posted at 6:05 PM, Mar 29, 2024

MISSOULA — Three Montana residents who admitted trafficking fentanyl in the Missoula and Helena areas have been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said that Nikolas Loren Pellant, 34, of Missoula, was sentenced on Friday, March 29, 2024, to five years and three months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Lynsi Noel Barnes, 33, of Missoula, and Beau James Breneman, 44, of Helena, were each sentenced to five years and three months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release on March 28.

Each defendant pleaded guilty in November 2023 to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

The government alleged in court documents that in October 2022, federal agents intercepted a package that contained more than 300 fentanyl pills and was addressed to Pellant.

Officers arrested Pellant when he accepted the package in a controlled delivery.

The investigation determined that Pellant and his girlfriend, Barnes, had been selling fentanyl in the Missoula area for several months and that they acquired the drug through the mail and by making weekly trips to Spokane.

The government further alleged that in January, the Montana Highway Patrol stopped Barnes as she was returning from one such trip and seized more than 450 fentanyl pills and other evidence of drug distribution from her vehicle.

In addition, the government alleged that in January 2022, law enforcement received reports of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in Lewis and Clark County.

According to a news release, an investigation determined that Breneman was distributing heroin laced with fentanyl and that he had warned at least one customer to use small and diluted quantities of the drug because it was dangerous. Breneman admitted to distributing heroin laced with fentanyl.

Breneman and Barnes were passengers in a vehicle that was stopped in Shoshone County, Idaho on May 31, 2023, and when law enforcement searched the car, more than 300 fentanyl pills were found. Officers also found a plastic bag containing more fentanyl pills concealed on Breneman’s person.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided over the sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter prosecuted the case. The Missouri River Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Service, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and Shoshone County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.