County Sheriff's Office

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Upholding the Law for Your Protection


1115 Main St.
PO Box 910
Thompson Falls, Montana 59873


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The office will be updating this site on a regular basis to reflect current and upcoming issues in Sanders County Law Enforcement.

If you have question please email
the department.


Gene Arnold




For Immediate Release:
Contact: Krista Standeford
September 22, 2009 406-546-4269

Narcotic Pain Killers new drug of choice in Sanders County
Local law enforcement dealing with onslaught of crimes involving narcotic pain killers.

Sanders County—“Prescription drugs have become the new methamphetamine in this County as in other Counties across the Nation.” said Detective Dryden of the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office. “Prescription narcotic pain killers are fast becoming the number one form of illegal drug use. “

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration nearly 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, that is more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants combined. The DEA has also reported that narcotic painkillers now cause more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.

“Locally, prescription narcotic painkillers create a unique problem for law enforcement because they are readily available, not illegal and necessary to treat health related issues. The problem does not stem from the doctors, pharmacist or patients that are being legally treated. The problem comes from the ease of access and the street demand for an easier, less traceable way to obtain and abuse drugs. Unlike meth there is no cooking time, no red flags being raised by the purchase of ingredients or chemical smells. Narcotic pain killers are in medicine cabinets across Sanders County and provide easy access for opportunists. “From seemly helpful kids next door to caregivers in need of cash, we have found no respect to age or position in regard to the stealing and selling of narcotic painkillers.” stated Detective Dryden.
In recent months the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office has seized narcotic pain killers on a number of cases, putting a small dent in the illegal drug industry in the County. Arrests have also been made in connection with the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, which can carry a possible felony charge.

Being a part of the Northwest Drug Task Force has allowed Sanders County greater flexibility and coordination of resources from within and beyond the borders of Sanders County. Recently, Northwest Drug Task Force Officers arrested Robert and Samantha Cottingham, of Plains, after the couple allegedly sold prescription drugs to an undercover officer.

In early August, officers received intelligence that an individual known as “Bob” from Plains, was selling a large amount of pills both in Plains and in the Kalispell area. Officers began an investigation and later introduced an undercover officer into the situation. “Bob” was identified as Robert Cottingham.
On August 24th about 8 o’clock pm, Robert and Samantha Cottingham met with an undercover officer in the Kalispell area at a prearranged location. Upon meeting the officer, Cottingham’s sold the officer eighty 40mg Oxycodone pills for 2000.00 dollars. The Cottinghams were arrested shortly after the sale was completed.

When asked what could be done to help our local situation, Dryden stated, “be aware, of any narcotic pain killers in your home, know how many you have and who has access to them. If you suspect someone may be taking your prescription pain killers, other drugs or someone else’s (narcotic pain killers) please call the Sheriff’s Office at 827-3584. We have also been working with local Doctors, Pharmacists, Schools and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to help raise awareness of the issue. Sanders County is a community of good people, our goal at the Sheriff’s Office is provide a safe, drug free community. Working together, we can do just that. “



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*Sanders County Fair Press Release

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After you review the information I have provided, you will know more about the office, have a clearer understanding of our priorities, and the approach to law enforcement in Sanders County, Montana


Copyright © 2006 Gene Arnold
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