GREAT FALLS — A Box Elder man who admitted possessing methamphetamine for distribution after leading law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation was sentenced today to seven years and eight months in prison followed by five years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.
Kyle Frank Russette, 26, pleaded guilty on Sept. 24, 2020 to possession with intent to possess meth.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.
In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that on Jan. 16, 2020, a Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement officer responded to a call to check on a vehicle that was parked and running outside of a residence. The officer found Russette asleep behind the wheel of a running pickup truck. Russette did not comply with directions to roll down his window or open his door, and a passenger exited the truck. While the officer returned to his vehicle to use the radio, Russette drove across a field and onto a road. Russette then led law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit, leaving the reservation and leading officers down snowy dirt roads. During the pursuit, an officer saw the driver’s door of the truck open and a handgun appear in the snow next to the vehicle. Russette eventually jumped from the vehicle as it careened into coulee and he was detained. He refused to provide his name, claimed to be someone else and had $668 in cash in a pocket.
Law enforcement recovered a 9mm loaded handgun from where Russette had thrown it from the truck. Officers executed a search warrant on the truck and found 164 grams of meth and a pistol. A confidential source identified Russette as a meth distributor on the reservation and had purchased the drug from Russette multiple times.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Plaut prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Tri-Agency Drug Task Force and Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement Services.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the USDOJ’s initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 48% from 2013 through 2019. Through these initiatives, 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.