Fugitive from Iowa arrested on reservation ranch in Montana
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An Iowa man who eluded authorities for almost eight years after his indictment on federal firearms charges has been apprehended at a remote ranch on a Montana Indian reservation.
Michael Duane Strain of Lime Springs, Iowa, made an initial court appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Billings, where Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan ordered him returned to Iowa to face charges.
The 62-year-old defendant is a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen, a label used by people who contend they don’t have to answer to government authorities, according to court documents.
He was arrested Wednesday by U.S. Marshals Service deputies after a telephone tip led authorities to the ranch on the Crow Reservation, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Timothy Hornung said.
Strain had lived there for years and “was basically squatting on the property,” according to an affidavit from Stephen Feuerstien, a detective assigned to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
When he was taken into custody, Strain told deputies they had no jurisdiction over him, according to the court documents.
Officials on Friday obtained warrants to search Strain’s residence, a storage building and his truck for illegal weapons.
His attorney during his initial court appearance, Assistant Federal Defender Evangelo Arvanetes, could not be reached immediately for comment.
Authorities say Strain had been a fugitive since being indicted in northern Iowa on two counts of a felon being in possession of a firearm.
During a 2011 search of his house, federal agents reported finding thousands of rounds of ammunition and numerous firearms, including shotguns, handguns and rifles.