Substance Abuse Alert: Inside the BCI evidence room

BISMARCK, N.D. - Illegal drug use in the Bismarck/Mandan area has escalated to levels never seen before, according to the Metro Area Narcotics Task Force.

In just the first quarter of 2017, agents seized more drugs than were confiscated in all of 2016. They've also seized guns, and other dangerous weapons from dealers and users.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigations evidence room is packed with boxes, bags and envelopes stuffed with millions and millions of dollars worth of drugs.

"This is four pounds of meth, this is closing in on a quarter million dollars' worth of meth, street value," said metro-area drug task force agent.

This bag is just one of hundreds of pieces of evidence BCI has confiscated this year.

"This is heroin, which is I believe about four pounds, which would put it at a million and a half," said metro-area drug task force agent..

This room is overstocked with every illegal drug imaginable, including lots of marijuana, and prescription pills.

The volume of drugs acquired from raids and arrests is staggering.

"This is a money counter, so if you don't think these people are doing this to make money, this is a perfect example of what they're doing. There making a lot of money selling drugs in this community."

More than $5 million worth of drugs have been confiscated from users and dealers this year. That's more than twice as much as in all of 2016. And, the drugs aren't the only lethal threat narcotics officers are taking off our streets.

"This is an 870 shotgun, it's very shot, it has a pistol grip handle, it's very easily concealable for a long gun."

The metro narcotics task force has taken dozens of deadly weapons off our streets this year. Shotguns, assault rifles, pistols and some creative weaponry.

"Its a brand new saw blade screwed in the top of a baseball bat. so you swing the baseball bat, like normal, only instead of getting hit by the bat, which is bad enough, you get hit by the saw blade, which will cut you open,"

While they're locked up now, these weapons could have been used against other dealers or officers

"It's evolved into a big city type of organizations, attitude, that type of thing, everybody wants to protect themselves and their own turf," said Dale Maixner, former drug task force agent.

A former BCI agent who investigated drug crimes in the 1980s and 90s thinks people in Bismarck and Mandan have no idea the amount of drugs being bought and sold, and the potential violence that exists in their communities.

"Without the drug enforcement you're going to have a lot more thefts, burglaries, robberies, assaults, because these people have to support their habit someway," said Maixner.

Maixner says when he was working, purchasing a quarter ounce of cocaine was a large buy. Now, task force members are seizing pounds of coke in a single bust.

Those drugs end up in the evidence room, as officers continue to carry out raids and buys, so that someday this locker isn't crammed full of evidence.

All of the items taken as evidence are stored until the cases make their way through the court system. After that, the items are either destroyed, sold at auction or given away to charity.