Couple Flees from Missoula Police, Man Gets Caught With Fentanyl
On March 23, 2022, at around 12:45 p.m., a Missoula Police Department Officer observed a vehicle parked at the Super 8 Motel in the 3900 block of Brooks Street. The officer was aware that the owner of that vehicle was 26-year-old Julia Mendoza and that she was in a relationship with 30-year-old Tagen Struhs. The officer was aware that Struhs had an extraditable felony arrest warrant out of both Washington State and Flathead County.
The officer had also recently received information that Struhs and Mendoza were suspected to be involved in drug related activities. When the vehicle left the Super 8 Motel, the officer initiated a traffic stop near the intersection of Brooks Street and Paxson Street. The vehicle yielded to the right and came to a stop. Struhs provided false names, but the officer recognized him and asked him to step out of the vehicle.
Instead of complying with these commands, Struhs told Mendoza to "drive" multiple times. Struhs shifted the vehicle into drive and pressed on Mendoza’s right knee with his left hand. Menodza then accelerated and drove off at a high rate of speed. As the vehicle accelerated, the officer was forced to quickly step back to prevent herself from being struck by the fleeing vehicle.
Officers immediately ran to their respective patrol vehicles and initiated a pursuit. Mendoza drove away from multiple law enforcement vehicles with a complete disregard for the safety of other citizens and traffic through residential neighborhoods. Eventually, the pursuit ended near Humble and South Avenue when Mendoza drove down a deadend road. Both Mendoza and Struhs were taken into custody.
During the search incident to arrest, officers located 13 Fentanyl pills in Struhs pocket. Struhs told the officer that there were more Fentanyl pills in the vehicle. The officer applied for a search warrant of the vehicle, which was subsequently signed by a District Court Judge.
Officers found a coin purse containing a bag of multicolored pills, 3 small rubber containers containing an unidentified dark brown substance, tin foil with burnt residue and one presumable Fentanyl pill inside, another tin foil with burnt residue and two presumable fentanyl pills inside, hundreds of tiny assorted bags, a hypodermic syringe with needle and 15 units of dark brown unidentified substance, a hypodermic syringe with needle and 100 units of dark brown unidentified substance, another clear bag containing 13 Fentanyl pills, multiple books with ledgers, digital scales, and other miscellaneous paraphernalia items.
Struhs is currently being charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and obstructing a peace officer. His bond was set at $250,000.
Mendoza is currently being charged with fleeing from or eluding a peace officer, criminal endangerment, and obstructing justice. Her bond was set at $50,000.