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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, March 31, 2023

Drug Trafficking, Pipe Bomb Possession Send Missoula Man to Prison for More Than Six Years

MISSOULA — A Missoula man who admitted to a drug trafficking crime after law enforcement found a backpack containing methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and a pipe bomb in his vehicle was sentenced today to six years and six months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Matthew Lucas Jones, 43, pleaded guilty in December 2022 to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that on June 1, 2021, law enforcement stopped Jones, while he was absconding from state probation, for a traffic violation after he drove into oncoming traffic. Officers searched a backpack in Jones’ vehicle and found heroin containing fentanyl, methamphetamine, dozens of distribution baggies and a pipe bomb. An explosives expert determined the pipe bomb was functional. Jones denied knowing about the pipe bomb or backpack and said that they must have belonged to the vehicle’s previous owner. However, surveillance video showed Jones carrying the backpack when he checked into a hotel the previous evening. Jones also possessed two cell phones, one of which contained multiple text messages indicating he was selling drugs, $1,060 cash, a silver coin and pre-paid cards.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Missoula Police Department, Montana Probation and Parole, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Drug Enforcement Administration.

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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