Prominent Crow Education Leader Involved in Vast Drug Conspiracy Connected to a Cartel

Prominent Crow Education Leader Involved in Vast Drug Conspiracy Connected to a Cartel
Frederica Lefthand

By Christina Macintosh, Billings Gazette

The former Dean of Academics at Little Big Horn College has been named a “ringleader” of a vast drug conspiracy connected to a cartel.

Frederica Lefthand, 52, of Lodge Grass, pleaded guilty on Aug. 23 to possession with intent to distribute meth and to conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She will be sentenced on Mar. 7, 2024.

Frederica Lefthand is seen in this mugshot. / Photo courtesy of the Yellowstone County Detention Facility
Frederica Lefthand is seen in this mugshot. / Photo courtesy of the Yellowstone County Detention Facility

From 2007 to 2018, Lefthand served as the Dean of Academics at Little Big Horn College on the Crow Indian Reservation. From 2001 to 2007, she worked at Montana State University in Bozeman as part of the Caring for Our Own Program, which helps to support Native nursing students.

Wendell Lefthand, Frederica’s brother, also pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy. He was previously an adjunct professor at Little Big Horn College, according to his LinkedIn.

The evidence provided as part of a large indictment — which includes the Lefthands along with 14 others — “indicates that the Montana ring leaders of this drug enterprise were Wendell and Frederica Lefthand,” according to a court document from a co-defendant’s case.

A court document from another defendant’s case describes Frederica Lefthand as “deep in the cartel’s clutches.”

The Lefthands are just two of around two dozen defendants facing charges for involvement in a large-scale, multi-state drug scheme centered on the Crow Indian Reservation, active from January 2022 through March 2023. The conspiracy operated in Billings, Hardin, Crow Agency, Wyola, Lodge Grass, the Crow Indian Reservation, Lame Deer, and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, as well as in Eastern Washington and Wyoming.

Court documents state that Frederica Lefthand was a source of supply for several co-conspirators, and that she traveled to Washington to obtain methamphetamine to distribute on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations.

She, along with two other co-conspirators, also sent money from Montana, Washington, and Wyoming, and to Washington, California, and Mexico, according to the indictment.

Darlon Richard Lefthand, 37, a nephew of Wendell and Frederica’s, was sentenced in December to seven years imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy.

“Frederica was Wendell’s source of supply,” according to a court document from his case. The document calls Frederica Lefthand “vastly more sophisticated and educated” than her nephew.

“He was vulnerable to the prospect of working for his aunt and uncle and he was easily persuaded to participate in their ongoing drug distribution,” the document continues.

Approximately two dozen were charged for their involvement with the conspiracy, including Frederica Lefthand's daughter Sayra Longfox, 25, who pleaded not guilty in October to conspiracy to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Seven in the conspiracy have been sentenced, with sentences ranging from four years of supervised release to seven years in prison.

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