GREAT FALLS – A Box Elder man accused in a scheme to smuggle methamphetamine into the Cascade County Detention Center by having inmates hide the drug inside their bodies admitted a drug trafficking charge today, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Franklin Troy Caplette, 36, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute meth. Caplette faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and at least three years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Sentencing was set for Feb. 11, 2021. Caplette was detained.
The prosecution said in court documents that in May 2019, while Caplette was incarcerated at the Cascade County Detention Center, detectives began to investigate a drug smuggling scheme. Caplette arranged for people outside of the jail to bond out inmates, provide the defendants with drugs to conceal in their rectums and have the defendants smuggle the drugs back into the jail.
When defendants returned to the jail and were placed in the booking room, they told detention officers who their enemies were at the jail so they could get placed into the right pod to distribute the drugs.
In June 2019, a judge temporarily released Caplette to attend a relative’s funeral on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and directed him to return by 5 p.m. the next day.
While on release, Caplette spoke by cell phone with jail inmates and told one inmate he was “coming in hot.” Detectives waited at the jail for Caplette, who arrived late. While Caplette went to the booking area, Caplette’s wife told detectives that they never made it to the funeral and instead went to other places before returning to Great Falls.
Detectives served a warrant on Caplette to search his body for drugs and took him to an emergency room for an x-ray. The x-ray showed three oblong-shaped objects in Caplette’s abdomen. Caplette eventually passed the bags. An analysis determined that one of the bags contained meth, while two of the bags contained tobacco.
Other inmates told detectives that Caplette was in charge of contraband entering the jail and that he would use young inmates to be runners to bring back drugs into jail, where they would have parties at night.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Russell Country Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Great Falls Police Department and Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 36% from 2013 to 2018. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.