Traffic stop in Motley leads to conviction

U.S Department of Justice seal.

Two men pleaded guilty Friday, Feb. 14, in U.S. District Court in St. Paul to selling methamphetamine on the White Earth Reservation.

The men — Michael J. Blandford, 28, Monticello, and Matthew J. Leigland, 26, Ponsford — admitted in court they traveled from the White Earth Indian Reservation to the Twin Cities to purchase methamphetamine from a source and then brought it back to the reservation to distribute. The men were arrested when a Minnesota State Patrol trooper conducted a traffic stop March 18, 2019, in Motley, for speeding and for having loud exhaust.

Blandford and Leigland, both convicted of one count each of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, were initially charged April 26, 2019. According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and documents filed in court, the trooper observed drug paraphernalia and Blandford showed signs of recent drug use. When asked to step out of the vehicle, he fled on foot and tossed an item out of his pocket, which was later found to be 10 grams of methamphetamine. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed a methamphetamine smoking device, used razor blades, a small digital scale, two measuring cups and a gallon plastic baggie containing 480 grams of methamphetamine.

The case was the result of an investigation conducted by the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, Motley Police Department and the FBI Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Gina L. Allery prosecuted the case.

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