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Montana man facing trafficking charges following traffic stop

| September 15, 2023 1:00 AM

WALLACE –– A routine traffic stop along Interstate 90 last weekend ended up being a major drug bust for the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office.

Micheal Ray Downing Jr., 19, was pulled over for a suspected DUI just after 1 a.m., as he headed east between Wallace and Mullan.

According to the probable cause affidavit, during the stop, Deputy David Stanton noticed the strong smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle and a butane torch in the vehicle’s cupholder. Downing told Stanton he didn’t believe there was any marijuana in the vehicle and that the vehicle didn’t belong to him.

After reading Downing his rights, Staton asked Downing several questions, including who the vehicle belonged to, where he was coming from, and if was under the influence of any substances. Downing told him that he had taken meth prior to leaving Seattle and that he’d been driving for 12 hours.

Stanton’s initial search of the inside of the vehicle uncovered a small amount of drugs and paraphernalia, however, once he got to the trunk it was discovered that Downing was in possession of a large amount of illegal substances.

Nearly $30,000 worth of illegal drugs, including 19 grams of heroin, almost a pound of methamphetamine, approximately 500 fentanyl pills, and a firearm were seized.

According to the cell phone that Downing unlocked for Stanton during the search, he was en route to Kalispell, Montana.

Downing, who resides in Missoula, Montana, was then arrested and booked into Shoshone County Jail. Among the charges listed were seven felonies, including trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin, two counts of grand theft, possession of a controlled substance (Schedule II), and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

If convicted, the maximum penalty for both trafficking charges is life in prison.

Downing‘s bail was set at $50,000 during his first appearance in court earlier this week. He remains in the custody of the Shoshone County Sheriff's Office.