Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force' Leads to Indictment of 29 Defendants for Drug Related Offenses in ND and California
BISMARCK - Acting U. S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers, in conjunction with U. S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner (Eastern District of California); ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem; Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Richard Thornton (Minneapolis FBI), and Chief Greg Williamson, Bakersfield Police Department, announced the indictment of 22 individuals in western North Dakota and 7 defendants in Bakersfield, California.
On June 3, 2015, the "Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force," was formally announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Myers, Attorney General Stenehjem, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Director Bruce Ohr and Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter. The indictments are a result of ‘Operation Western Edge’, an OCDETF investigation into the trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin from Bakersfield, California to Bakken region.
Acting U.S. Attorney Chris Myers noted: "The Strike Force was designed to work as one unit to identify, target and dismantle criminal organizations working in the Bakken and reach beyond the borders of North Dakota to ensure the entire criminal organization is brought to justice. After only a few months we are seeing the efficiency, strength and extended reach provided by the Strike Force model. The results here are exactly what we hoped for when we designed the Strike Force."
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner remarked: "Cross-jurisdictional cooperation is essential for effective narcotics enforcement. We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota for its leadership in this case, and to our state and federal law enforcement colleagues in both states for their professionalism and assistance."
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem stated: "These are the results we can expect with the cooperative efforts as exemplified by the Bakken Strike Force. This investigation involved over two years of diligent efforts by various state, local and federal enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Criminal Investigation under my authority. I am committed to continuing our joint efforts with the US Attorney’s office and the FBI, not just through the Bakken Strike Force but on other enforcement operations."
SAC Richard Thornton said: "The FBI is committed to the security of the Bakken area of North Dakota. We will continue to aggressively investigate organized crime wherever it may be found. We will work with our law enforcement partners, through the ‘Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force’, to ensure that those who engage in this type of criminal activity pay a high price."
Greg Williamson, Chief of Police, Bakersfield, CA: "The Bakersfield Police Department is proud to have been a part of this investigation. Criminals pay no attention to jurisdictional lines, and when a criminal enterprise crosses several states it can quickly exceed the resources of local agencies. That’s when the capabilities of the federal authorities become invaluable in making a difference in our city’s streets and neighborhoods. We are happy to have had this opportunity to work with our law enforcement partners in North Dakota and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We are looking forward to assisting the United States Attorney’s office in North Dakota in following through and seeing justice done in this matter."
Defendants Indicted in North Dakota:
Ronnie Ray Taylor, 43, Bakersfield, CA
Terrance Darshay Lynn Peterson, a/k/a Turtle, 42, Minot, ND
Victor Murillo, a/k/a Vic, 32, Bakersfield, CA
Debra Meladore Davis, 49, Minot, ND
Bryan Keith Davis, 48, Minot, ND
Regina Rose Lehman, 43, Minot, ND
Michael John Gietl, 43, (currently in federal custody)
Robert Raymond Althaus, 44, Minot, ND
Peggy Lee St. Claire, 53, Minot, ND
Jade Marie Backman, 33, Minot, ND
Jody Lee Deharty, 25, Minot, ND
Ricky Dean Strahan, 56, Minot, ND
Gerald Wayne Osby Jr., 22, Minot, ND
James Alex Locklear, 27, Minot, ND
Alyssa Jo Schlienz, 21, Minot, ND
Audra Dezzari Harris, 39, Minot, ND
Gilbert Eugene Graim, Jr., 21, Bakersfield, CA
Teoshalashanae M. Songcuan, 24, Bakersfield, CA
Deandre Trayvon Peterson, 24, Minot, ND
Jimmy Dale Price, 42, Minot, ND
Miranda Leigh Grant, 30, Minot, ND
Rodney Lee Jackson, 49, Carson, CA
AUSA Rick Volk is prosecuting these cases for the District of North Dakota.
Defendants Indicted in the Eastern District of California:
Ricardo Cruz Gomez, 23, Bakersfield, CA
Marquiz Demitric Tucker, 44, Bakersfield, CA
Labrea Leshawn Davis, 29, Bakersfield, CA
Robin Lee, 25, Bakersfield, CA
Nina Johnson, 35, Bakersfield, CA
Michael Muniz, 43, Bakersfield, CA
Ruben Valdez, Jr., 37, Bakersfield, CA
AUSA Brian Delaney is prosecuting these cases for the Eastern District of California.
The indictments from both Districts, recently unsealed, are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Bakersfield Police Department, Minot Police Department, Ward County Sheriff’s Office, Ward County Narcotics Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Metro Area Narcotics Task Force, North Dakota Highway Patrol, and United States Border Patrol.