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Hugh Shawgo

Hugh Shawgo

Two men who prosecutors say flew drugs from Spokane into northwest Montana to sell have been charged with federal felonies.

Hugh Shawgo, 44, pleaded not guilty to drug conspiracy and possession charges, as well as possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking case, during his arraignment hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Montana.

Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch ordered that Shawgo remain in custody pending further court hearings.

Michael Norton, who faces the same drug charges as Shawgo,as well as a felony for flying with an airman’s certificate, was released from custody shortly after his and Shawgo’s arrests, and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

In a federal complaint filed after Shawgo and Norton’s arrests in September, Special Agent Troy Casper with the Department of Homeland Security said the two men were caught after their plane landed at the airport in Libby, and that investigators found the drugs on board.

Casper said the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office had been investigating Shawgo since August for allegedly distributing methamphetamine in western Montana.

Shawgo has a 2015 conviction for operation of a drug lab in Cascade County and other felony drug convictions in Washington and Idaho.

On Sept. 13, two sheriff’s detectives saw Shawgo driving to the airport outside Libby, which they believed he used to travel to Spokane to pick up meth to bring back to Montana. About an hour later, Shawgo allegedly called a woman being held at the Lincoln County jail saying they had just landed in the Spokane area, and called again later saying he was driving through Spokane with a “big ball of brown,” which according to Casper’s report was a reference to heroin.

That evening, officers were at the airport when a plane registered to Norton landed, and both he and Shawgo were taken into custody. In an interview with detectives, Shawgo allegedly said there was a pound of meth, a half ounce of heroin and a gun on the plane.

After obtaining a search warrant for the plane, detectives said they found the pound of meth on board, as well as packages containing various pills, a pistol, two plastic bags with heroin inside and around $900.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.