September 28, 1973
Jonathan Strong had ridden up the mountain with Jep, together they stood and looked across the Missoula valley below. Strong was impressed, “I see why you like it here, I really do, this is something you don’t see in D.C.” They stood in silence for a few moments, but Jep was a talker, always had been and the historian in Jep began to point out different areas in the valley. The part of the valley of most interest to Strong was the Hellgate Canyon, Jep had already explained to the feds the significance of the name and what had happened there.
After a few more minutes Jep asked, “Just how much money was involved in the western Montana part of this organization?” Strong looked at Jep, “As far as we can estimate about Sixty Three Million in Montana alone.” “Sixty three million dollars, I just can’t believe it,” the very thought stunned Jep as he stared out over the valley that had meant so much to him most of his life, He couldn’t help but wonder how something like this had happened. As a kid growing up here, he had led a pretty sheltered life, but he didn’t know it. He thought how at nineteen he had been called on a mission by the LDS Church to Arizona and southern California, and he remembered how shocked he was the day he was transferred from Yuma, Arizona to National Heights, California near San Diego, He had stepped off the bus in downtown San Diego only to be greeted by bright fluorescent lights that advertised things he had not imagined. He also remembered the first time he had seen a young woman in a bikini, it was quite a shock to him that someone of the opposite sex would wear something so revealing. His thoughts were interrupted by Strong, “Well Jep sixty three million dollars, it’s true, that’s the estimated amount this little “Montana Cartel” had made in just the few short months it seems to have existed.” “Thanks to you and your work with the Montana Department of Justice and the Federal Agencies involved, we seem to have gotten not only to the bottom of this drug mess, but solved a missing person report and at least one murder out of state as well. Then there is the gun connection which was even bigger than any of us imagined, the modest weaponry exchange at the local guns shows you worked on led to the connections in Nevada, California and the Middle East. It could run into the billions with a B. Hellgate, my friend, ended up being just as you described, “The gates of Hell.”