Sheriff says guns are being stolen for drug trading

Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 7:29 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents of a rise in gun thefts, saying the weapons are then turned around and sold for drugs.

Last year, the Metro Area Task force seized 28 weapons that were used in crimes, drug trades or were stolen.

This year, they’re on track to exceed that number.

The Metro Area Task Force has confiscated 23 this year.

“There’s a certain criminal element out there that is looking for opportunities to take a weapons when they can,” said Kyle Kirchmeier, Morton County sheriff.

Kirchmeier says the thefts are crimes of opportunity. The weapons are being taken out of cars where they are left unattended and being traded for drugs, such as meth, heroin, and fentanyl.

“Most of the guns that are traded here are being traded for drugs and then those guns are taken to other communities outside of the Burleigh and Morton area,” said Kirchmeier.

Kirchmeier says the guns are taken to metro areas such as Minneapolis and Chicago where they are used for criminal activities or being sold at a higher price.

Deputies on patrol say catching a suspect in the act can be difficult.

“It’s like being at the right place at the right time, or having vigilant neighbors that are watching and seeing things, like that car doesn’t belong here,” said Lt. John Lemieux, Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

As the gun thefts increase, the amount of drugs coming into the city is also rising.

“There is plenty of drug activity in the area that we’re still watching and trying to get ahold of and then the guns just make it a little more challenging not only for the officers on the street but for the citizens as well,” said Kirchmeier.

Kirchmeier says if residents lock up their guns and keep them hidden, criminals won’t have the opportunity to get their hands on them.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is reminding residents to always lock up guns and to transport them in secure boxes when going hunting.

The department has held or seized 27 guns in addition to the 23 confiscated by the task force this year.

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