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Meth trafficker involved in high-speed chases on Blackfeet Reservation and Billings sentenced

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Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 12:20:43-04

GREAT FALLS — Elijah James Rideshorse of Billings, who admitted methamphetamine trafficking and firearms crimes involving two high-speed chases, was sentenced in federal court on Thursday.

Rideshorse, 30 years old, pleaded guilty on May 12 to possession with intent to distribute meth and to felon in possession of a firearm, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release.

Prosecutors said that Rideshorse brought meth to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in August 2020. On August 23, 2020, Rideshorse was in a high-speed vehicle chase from Browning to Cut Bank. The driver, another passenger (John Doe), and Rideshorse all ran on foot once they made it to Cut Bank. Only Doe was apprehended that day, and officers found meth supplied by Rideshorse on Doe. The vehicle also contained more of Rideshorse’s meth. Investigators determined that Rideshorse was involved in drug distribution, possessed, firearms and had recently purchased drugs in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The government also said that law enforcement received numerous complaints of Rideshorse being involved in criminal activity in the Billings area. On October 12, 2020, Billings police officers tried to stop a stolen vehicle that had been involved in recent shootings. The driver - later identified as Rideshorse - sped away, leading officers on a high-speed chase. He continued driving after officers spiked the vehicle's tires; he finally stopped when his vehicle was intentionally struck by a Montana Highway Patrol vehicle as it approached school buses and heavy traffic.

Rideshorse tried to run but was caught. Three female passengers, including two juveniles, were in the vehicle. Officers found a stolen semi-automatic pistol that Rideshorse had dropped on the road as he ran, and an AR-style rifle with a 40-round magazine in the vehicle. Rideshorse was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a prior felony conviction.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Rideshorse to 12 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan R. Plaut prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services, Montana Highway Patrol, Billings Police Department, Cut Bank Police Department and Glacier County Sheriff’s Office.