Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On December 6, 2023, a Missoula Drug Task Force Detective was contacted by a United States Postal Inspector who intercepted a suspicious package that was addressed to “Japel”. The package had been sent from Los Angeles to Missoula.

The address from which it was sent did not exist and was not a valid address. In reviewing previous delivery records, the TFO found that eight other parcels had been delivered to that same residence from the same Los Angeles post office, since June 2023. 

The TFO requested a Missoula Police Department Officer respond to the post office with K9 Zip, a narcotics trained dog. K9 Zip demonstrated a positive alert for the odor of narcotics. The TFO applied for and was granted a search warrant for the suspicious package by United States Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston.  

The warrant was executed upon the package, at which time several bags of suspected narcotics were found. The bags were tested using the TruNarc scanner and the following substances were identified: 

  • One baggie of cocaine weighing approximately 25.4 grams 
  • One baggie of cocaine weighing approximately 54.3 grams 
  • One baggie of cocaine weighing approximately 7.6 grams 
  • One baggie of ketamine weighed approximately 28.8 grams 
  • Five cartridges of cocaine with a total weight of approximately 73.3 grams 
  • Twenty black tablets labeled “Cenforce 200 Sildenafil Citrate”. Upon review, the TFO found these to be an off-label, prescription only drug, used for sexual dysfunction. 

The TFO found the package was registered to receive tracking updates via text message to a phone number. Further, a USPS account was located, registered to 44-year-old Matthew Japel and associated with that phone number. 

Based on her investigation, the TFO applied for and was granted a search warrant for the residence by Judge Marks. On December 7, 2023, the TFO, along with additional members of the MDTF, executed the warrant and found Japel in the front yard. According to court documents, Japel waived his rights under Miranda and agreed to speak with the TFO. 

Japel admitted to purchasing cocaine and ketamine in bulk, then selling to his friends at his cost. Japel denied any knowledge of how he orders his product, how he pays for the product, or who he orders from.  

After the search warrant, the following summary of items was found:  

  • numerous vials of suspected cocaine 
  • suspected Xanax bars 
  • shrooms 
  • ketamine 
  • baggies commonly used for distribution 
  • a scale 
  • three cellphones 
  • a handgun 
  • $1400 cash 

The TFO placed Japel under arrest and transported him to the Missoula County Detention Center. Japel is currently being charged with two counts of felony attempted criminal possession with intent to distribute and felony unlawful use/possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable. 

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