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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Box Elder Man Admits Meth Trafficking, Firearm Crimes on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation

GREAT FALLS — A Box Elder man accused of trafficking drugs on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation after law enforcement found a pound of methamphetamine and eight firearms in his truck admitted to charges today, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Thomas Knife, aka “Smurf,” 41, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and to prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Knife faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and at least five years of supervised release.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court set sentencing for Aug. 24. Knife was detained pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that in December 2022, law enforcement made a traffic stop on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation of an individual who was suspected of bringing large quantities of controlled substances to Montana. During the stop, Knife arrived driving a truck. Knife told officers that the vehicle involved in the traffic stop belonged to him. Officers ultimately arrested Knife on a warrant. As they took Knife into custody, officers saw a short-barreled shotgun inside the truck he had been driving. During a search of the truck, officers found more than $500, approximately one pound of meth and eight firearms, including a .22-caliber rifle and a 20-gauge shotgun that appeared to have modified barrels. There also were hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the vehicle. Knife was on felony state probation at the time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan R. Plaut is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Rocky Boy’s Police Department and Montana Highway Patrol.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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