North Dakota and
Montana media report that thanks to a newly created drug task force, prosecutors
have indicted twenty-nine people for their part in a sophisticated and
lucrative drug trafficking ring in the
Bakken oil fields area. The ring supplied both methamphetamine and heroin to
the regional economic hub.
The enterprise transported its product from California to the Bakken, leading
to criminal charges in both California and North Dakota. The
FBI announced that federal charges were filed against twenty-two individuals
in western North Dakota and an additional seven in Bakersfield, California,
on August 11th. The defendants, ranging in age from 21 to 53 years, face
a number of charges, including conspiracy to commit money laundering,
possession of drugs with intent to distribute, and illegal weapons possession.
While this bust undoubtedly puts a big dent in the crime ring's organization
and output, Christopher Myers, the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case
in North Dakota, tells the
Grand Forks Herald that the investigation remains "very active."
The Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force
Both law enforcement officers and prosecutors credit the high-profile bust
to the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force, a group only formally announced
in June of this year. This is the first major action taken by the group
since the announcement. While the strike force is only three months old,
the underlying investigation, referred to internally as "Operation
Western Edge," has been working for over two years toward this end.
Myers stated that these indictments help "bring [the investigation]
to that next level." The strike force includes members of, and operates
in coordination with, local, state, and federal officials--including the
FBI. Myers stated that the bust serves as a warning to other potential
traffickers that the Bakken will not be "easy pickings" for
the importation or distribution of illegal drugs.
Human Trafficking Also Charged
Two of the men facing federal charges also face accusations of human trafficking
in North Dakota state court. According toThe Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, prosecutors allege that the men forced two women into prostitution in
Williston, Dickinson, and Minot, North Dakota from April 2014 to April
2015. Court documents show that one of the women also stated that the
men supplied her with methamphetamine and heroin.
Drug Use in the Bakken Region
Drug use of any kind in the workplace can have devastating consequences.
As the Strike Force shows, drugs have a palpable presence in the Bakken.
If you are injured on the job as the result of another employee's
contact us for assistance in ensuring you are fairly compensated.