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Drug joint task force seizes drugs, guns

UNET working to eliminate drugs in western South Dakota.
UNET working to eliminate drugs in western South Dakota.(Pennington County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 6:14 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Thirty-two pounds of methamphetamine, four pounds of cocaine, 56 grams of heroin, and 14 guns were seized between October and December of last year by a multi-agency drug task force in Pennington County, with some arrests are still pending.

It is a joint effort-- the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team aims to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs in South Dakota, comprised of Pennington County Sheriff’s deputies and Rapid City Police officers, they work with the State Division of Criminal Investigations, Highway Patrol,and federal agencies like the DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security to fight illegal drug distribution, from the top down.

“Investigating these crimes, and taking these people off the streets, there’s a very preventative effect for violent crime, property crimes, general crimes,” said Sgt. Casey Kenrick, the Supervisor of the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team. “The amount of guns we are seizing in these cases is insane, and a lot of them are stolen. A lot of them, we don’t know where they came from, they’re getting traded for drugs, they’re getting traded for who knows what-- money-- there’s a lot of violence that comes with these types of cases.”

Kenrick said we did not hear about these busts at the time in order to not jeopardize other cases. He also said these drugs are coming directly from cartels, with no middlemen.

“Significant, vast, almost all of the methamphetamine originates in Mexico and comes and gets smuggled across the border in various ways,” said Kenrick. “There is so little methamphetamine, I believe from my experience, made specifically in South Dakota.”

Kenrick said the drug numbers are generally trending upward and drug use across the state is disproportionately high.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re a small state, but as you can see by these numbers, I think we relatively have a large drug problem,” said Kenrick. “I think the best thing we can do is join forces together with these different agencies to provide the best service for our communities.

Kenrick also says they are finding guns from car burglaries in the possession of drug dealers, so, he reminds people not to leave their guns in their cars.

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