Bakken Strike Force Indicts 29 in Federal Drug Bust

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A big strike against drug traffickers occurred in North Dakota.

Authorities have arrested 29 people in a two-year investigation.

Twenty-two of them are from Minot. The rest are from California.

It's one of the first cases made public by the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force, which includes the acting U.S. attorney, the attorney general and several law enforcement agencies across the state.

Law enforcement seized more than 500 grams of meth and other controlled substances in this investigation.

The defendants traveled between Bakersfield, Calif., and Minot to transport, deliver and sell illegal drugs.

Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers says the indictments will deter criminals from choosing to do business in North Dakota.

North Dakota has become a lucrative marketplace for drug traffickers.

The Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force aims to fight the increase of drug and violent crimes in the oil patch.

"What we're trying to do is send the message to those criminal organizations that might come into North Dakota and think it's easy pickings. It's not going to be," Myers said.

Agencies throughout the state worked with Bakersfield's law enforcement to arrest and indict the 29 defendants.

"To the extent that we're able to nip this in the bud with these kinds of cases that really does indicate that we can get a handle on this," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

The crimes span across state lines and country borders, as well as Indian reservations. Several FBI agents have been placed in Williston to help the agencies.

"This case is a great example of what can be accomplished when local, state and federal law enforcement all work together," said Richard Thornton, special agent in charge for the Minneapolis FBI.

Myers says he can't comment on details of the case until the investigation and court proceedings are over.

The defendants range from 21 to 56 years old, and they're all facing the possibility of at least 10 years in prison.