BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged Friday that federal prosecutors will work closely with law enforcement and drug treatment providers in Montana as the state grapples with a rise in crime linked to the drug methamphetamine.
Sessions spoke about the nation’s drug problem during an appearance in Billings before several dozen police officers, judges, prosecutors and treatment specialists.
Much of his speech focused on opioid overdose deaths that have been a major issue in other parts of the U.S. But Sessions acknowledged methamphetamine poses a bigger problem in Montana and other states.
Criminal violations involving methamphetamine in Montana increased more than 400 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the Montana Department of Justice.
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To illustrate the violence often associated with the drug, Sessions pointed to the 2016 murder of a 13-month-old girl, Kenzley Olson, on Montana’s Fort Peck Indian Reservation by a caregiver who was high on methamphetamine.
“There are many stories like this and many of you probably know some of those stories,” he said. “But we are not going to accept this as the status quo.”
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said he was encouraged by the attention being given to Montana’s drug problem.
“There’s a lot of it coming through here,” St. John said of methamphetamine. “Criminals think law enforcement here is soft. It’s not so much we’re soft it’s that we’re a very, very big state that’s hard to cover.”