the takedown

Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force Nabs 29 Defendants for Meth, Heroin Trafficking

Despite being in official existence for a only a few months, the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force is already making its presence felt.

Last week the Strike Force announced the results of Operation Western Edge – the arrest of 22 individuals in western North Dakota and seven in Bakersfield, California for trafficking methamphetamine and heroin from Bakersfield to the Bakken region.

Operation Western Edge was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Bakersfield Police Department, Minot Police Department, Ward County North Dakota Sheriff’s Office, Ward County Narcotics Task Force, Metro Area Narcotics Task Force, North Dakota Highway Patrol and the U.S. Border Patrol contributed to the investigation.

Acting U. S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers of the District of North Dakota, in conjunction with U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the Eastern District of California, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division and Chief Greg Williamson of the Bakersfield Police Department announced the indictments.

“The strike force was designed to work as one unit to identify, target and dismantle criminal organizations working in the Bakken, and reach beyond the borders of North Dakota to ensure the entire criminal organization is brought to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Myers.  “After only a few months we are seeing the efficiency, strength and extended reach provided by the strike force model.  The results here are exactly what we hoped for when we designed the strike force.”

“Cross-jurisdictional cooperation is essential for effective narcotics enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner.  “We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota for its leadership in this case, and to our state and federal law enforcement colleagues in both states for their professionalism and assistance.”

“These are the results we can expect with the cooperative efforts as exemplified by the Bakken Strike Force,” said North Dakota Attorney General Stenehjem.  “This investigation involved over two years of diligent efforts by various state, local and federal enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Criminal Investigation under my authority.  I am committed to continuing our joint efforts with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, not just through the Bakken Strike Force, but on other enforcement operations.”

“The FBI is committed to the security of the Bakken area of North Dakota,” said Special Agent in Charge Thornton.  “We will continue to aggressively investigate organized crime wherever it may be found.  We will work with our law enforcement partners, through the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force, to ensure that those who engage in this type of criminal activity pay a high price.”

“The Bakersfield Police Department is proud to have been a part of this investigation,” said Chief Williamson. “Criminals pay no attention to jurisdictional lines and when a criminal enterprise crosses several states it can quickly exceed the resources of local agencies.  That’s when the capabilities of the federal authorities become invaluable in making a difference in our city’s streets and neighborhoods.  We are happy to have had this opportunity to work with our law enforcement partners in North Dakota and the FBI.  We are looking forward to assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota in following through and seeing justice done in this matter.

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