Nicholas James Imhoff caught with 78 pounds of meth

Florida drug trafficker, Nicholas James Imhoff caught with 78 pounds of meth in a traffic stop near Columbus sentenced to 11 years in prison

Street value estimated at $624,000 to $1,248,000

BILLINGS (STL.News) A Florida man who admitted trafficking methamphetamine after the Montana Highway Patrol found 78 pounds of the drug during a traffic stop in one of the state’s largest seizures was sentenced today to 11 years in prison and to five years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.

Nicholas James Imhoff, 30, of Cape Coral, Florida, pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, 2020 to possession with intent to distribute meth.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

“With this traffic stop of Mr. Imhoff’s vehicle, the Montana Highway Patrol prevented a staggering amount of nearly pure methamphetamine from hitting the streets and harming communities.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office is dedicated to dealing with the problem of meth in our communities.  We need to reduce both supply and demand.  One way to reduce supply is demonstrated by this case.  Meth traffickers caught in Montana will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.

“Meth is the driving force behind the surge in violent crime across our state in recent years.  One Highway Patrol trooper’s vigilance resulted in one of the largest drug interdictions in state history and kept a massive amount of meth off the streets.  The Highway Patrol and entire Montana Department of Justice will continue to pursue and crack down on the people who are flooding our communities with dangerous drugs,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said.

The government said in court documents filed in the case that on Feb. 11, 2020, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper stopped a vehicle for speeding on Interstate 90 near Columbus.  Imhoff, the driver and sole occupant, told the trooper he was headed back to work in the oilfields in North Dakota.  Imhoff’s explanations and other observations led the trooper to suspect Imhoff was transporting drugs.

Imhoff’s vehicle was impounded and the officer obtained a Montana search warrant.  During a search of the vehicle, officers seized about 78 pounds of meth, which is the equivalent of 282,672 doses.  The meth was located under a floor storage compartment in the second seat area and was in white plastic garbage bags.  Some of the meth was packaged in vacuum sealed plastic bags and some was wrapped in duct tape.  An analysis by a Drug Enforcement Administration lab determined the meth was 98 percent pure.  The street value of the meth was estimated at between $624,000 to $1,248,000.  The seizure was one of the largest meth seizures in Montana.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Patten prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Montana Highway Patrol.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime.  According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 36% from 2013 to 2018.  Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.