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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Acting U. S. Attorney Myers and Attorney General Stenehjim Announced "Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force" in Western North Dakota

BISMARCK, ND – Acting US Attorney Chris Myers and ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem held a joint announcement in Bismarck today, to announce the formation of the “Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force.”

The key component of the Strike Force is the focused and coordinated mission of identifying, targeting and dismantling all types of organized crime in the Bakken including human trafficking, drug and weapons trafficking, and white collar crimes. The Strike Force follows the 2013 creation of Project Safe Bakken, a collaborative la enforcement program in North Dakota and Montana that joins federal, state and tribal law enforcement in the fight against criminal activity in the Bakken.

“The Strike Force will have the capability of not only dismantling local criminal organizations in the Bakken, but also to take out the national and international components of these organizations wherever they may be located,” said Acting ND US Attorney Chris Myers. “The strike force will take a regional approach to a regional problem, coordinating with Montana law enforcement. We value the strong partnerships already developed with Montana US Attorney Mike Cotter and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox in this fight,” he continued.

“In response to the serious increase in the level of organized criminal activity in western North Dakota, local, state and federal agencies have allocated resources for critical new law enforcement. All of this makes it possible to send a message that law enforcement is doubly dedicated to bringing lawbreakers to justice. This effort will assure citizens that we will always protect our residents, and tells criminals that they do not want to do business in North Dakota,” said Stenehjem.

Bruce Ohr, director of the US DOJ Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program said he “fully supports the efforts being made in North Dakota and Montana to bring law enforcement agencies and prosecutors together to address the crime problems arising from the oil boom in the Bakken.” OCDETF is a nationwide program that funds agents, prosecutors and task forces to identify and dismantle criminal organizations.

Montana US Attorney Cotter said “the Bakken’s criminal impact transcends borders and so should our law enforcement response. The Strike Force is a welcome addition to our existing multi-jurisdictional law enforcement efforts in the region.”

Federal, state and local authorities have mobilized approximately fifty agents and four prosecutors in a concerted effort to attack organized crime. The strike force is comprised of four task forces, each having allocated federal, state and local agents along with a coordinated state-federal prosecutor. The task forces are set up in Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Williston, and will coordinate their investigative efforts.

Stenehjem and Myers will hold a joint news conference in Williston this afternoon. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently building a new office in Williston with an expected completion date in 2016. Once completed, this office will contain a federally funded Safe Streets task force to enhance the overall Strike Force capabilities.

Updated September 4, 2015