Two Flathead residents accused of fentanyl trafficking

May 10—An investigation by the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force and Lincoln County Sheriff's Office has led to the arrest of two suspected drug traffickers allegedly in possession of substantial quantities of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Cheryl Esther Eslami, 44, of Kalispell, and Daniel Scott Broesel, 42, of Kalispell, each face felony charges following an April 17 traffic stop west of Troy. Authorities reported seizing several pounds of meth and fentanyl powder as well as tens of thousands fentanyl pills.

Eslami is charged in state court while Broesel is facing charges in federal court.

Eslami appeared in Lincoln County District Court Monday, May 6, and pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of possession of dangerous drugs with the intent to distribute and one felony count of possession of property subject to forfeiture.

She is free after posting $100,000 bail on April 19. Her next hearing in Lincoln County is set for June 3.

Broesel is in the Missoula County Detention Center on a no-bond federal hold related to the charges.

According to federal charging documents, Broesel is accused of one felony count of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and one felony count of conspiracy with intent to distribute controlled substances.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Charles Moffet said in the charging document investigators with the local drug task force and Homeland Security Investigations received information that Broesel was involved in the distribution of large amounts of dangerous drugs in the Flathead Valley and other areas of Montana.

According to the charging document, Broesel allegedly admitted to his participation in a large-scale trafficking conspiracy between Washington and Montana.

A detention hearing was held on April 24 to determine if Broesel would be released. His younger brother and a man who described himself as a life-long friend both argued for the defendant's release.

Broesel's younger brother, Eric, acknowledged how he and his family have seen, "Daniel's struggles in past years with drugs and alcohol.

As well as him overcome these addictions when he puts his mind to it. But we've never seen him willing to enter a rehab facility and truly try to get clean. I'm afraid that him being locked up and not given that opportunity will only lead to further troubles for him.

Dan Wallen, Broesel's lifelong friend, wrote of his wish to see his friend released from confinement with terms.

"I believe it is important to begin by stating Danny is an addict. I have witnessed him kick habits cold turkey. If Danny is released he will certainly not pose a risk of flight on judgement," Wallen wrote.

But in U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto's April 25 ruling denying his release, she wrote, "Defendant (Broesel) has two previous instances of bail jumping and failures to comply with court-ordered conditions."

She also cited the "serious" nature of the offense he is charged with.

Broesel pleaded not guilty to both counts at his May 1 arraignment in Missoula. His jury trial is set for July 1.

According to the charging document filed by Lincoln County Deputy Attorney Lauren O'Neill, county Det. Brandon Holzer wrote in a supplemental narrative that the drug task force had investigated a 2008 black Toyota Tundra after multiple informants told authorities that the occupants of the truck were going to get a large amount of narcotics from an out-of-state source before returning to the Flathead.

Holzer and Deputy Ben Fisher saw the truck, which had an expired registration, and stopped it. The officers had a warrant to search the truck but not for the arrest of Eslami or Broesel. The couple and their dog left the scene while the officers had the truck towed to Libby where members of the task force, county and U.S. Border Patrol searched the vehicle. Holzer reported photographing a white substance near the gear shifter.

During the traffic stop, county Det. Anthony Jenson reported that he was visiting his mother in Spokane, Washington, the last few days and was on his way home to Kalispell.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the search turned up 2,382 grams of fentanyl pills, 302 grams of fentanyl powder and 3,726 grams of meth. Portions of the drugs were packaged and sent to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula for testing.

The search also allegedly turned up assorted paraphernalia, including glass pipes with burned residue inside, a plastic snort tube, a pill bottle with blue fentanyl pills, aluminum foil with a burned narcotic residue on it, a plastic bag with a vacuum sealer and seal bags.

Det. Holzer then had county deputies return to the Troy area where they found and arrested Broesel and Eslami in a motel.