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Three Sentenced for Role in Meth Distribution
Federal judges hand down multi-year prison terms for involvement
Three members of a methamphetamine trafficking and distribution group that brought the drug from other states to the Flathead Valley recently received federal sentences for their involvement.

On Oct. 16, U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen sentenced Kalispell resident Derek Heft, 27, to 180 months in prison, a $200 assessment and supervised release for five years for his guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to distribute meth and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

That same day, Diane Walters, 37, of Kalispell, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, a $100 assessment and five years of supervised release for her guilty plea to a conspiracy to distribute meth charge.

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s office, the investigation into Heft’s involvement in meth distribution began in August 2011. He was receiving pound quantities of the drug from two other people in Washington, and agents watching Heft in Flathead County saw him meet one of the suppliers in October 2011.

Agents arrived and detained Heft, who was wearing a loaded 9mm when arrested, and Walters, who identified herself as Heft’s girlfriend and was in the car during the meeting. Heft told agents there was about a pound-and-a-half of meth in his car. A search of the car yielded 700 grams of meth, several firearms, cash and cell phones.

In subsequent interviews, Walters said she would accompany Heft when he went to meet suppliers, and she went on a trip with him to Las Vegas to pick up a pound of meth and brought it back to Montana.

In a related case, on Oct. 19, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy sentenced Brandy Burkowski, 26, of Trego, to 66 months in prison, a $100 special assessment and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute meth.

Law enforcement agents were told in March 2011 that Burkowski and another person were bringing pound quantities of meth from California to the Flathead. During the search of a truck in connection to a burglary investigation in which Burkowski was a suspect, agents found meth and what they suspected was heroine, along with three firearms.

When questioned, Burkowski said she received about two pounds of meth every other week in and around Flathead County. She told agents that she was originally dealing meth to Heft, but at the time of questioning was receiving it from him.

Burkowski also said she traveled to Casper, Wyo., once a week to get 20 ounces of meth each week for two years.

The other suppliers and traffickers referenced have been sentenced in federal court as well.

There is no parole in the federal system, but they do have a chance to earn a sentence reduction for good behavior. However, the sentence reduction cannot exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Northwest Drug Task Force conducted the investigation.
 
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