DETROIT MEN CONVICTED OF NUMEROUS FEDERAL CHARGES FOR A LARGE DRUG DISTRIBUTION ENTERPRISE TARGETING THE SPIRIT LAKE, TURTLE MOUNTAIN AND FORT BERTHOLD INDIAN RESERVATIONS
FARGO – United States Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl announced that on June 17, 2022, following a 12-day trial, a jury returned guilty verdicts on multiple counts against two men from Detroit, Michigan, for their leadership in a drug trafficking organization targeting three of North Dakota’s Native American Reservations.
Baquan Sledge, a/k/a Rell, a/k/a TJ, a/k/a Matthew Pierce, was convicted of Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, and Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premise.
Darius Sledge, a/k/a Ace, a/k/a Man Man, a/k/a Frank Love, a/k/a Gary, a/k/a Bill, was convicted of Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, and Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premise.
This case is part of "Operation Blue Prairie," an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into the multi-state trafficking of oxycodone.
The multi-agency investigation led by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement revealed that the Sledge defendants and their co-conspirators targeted areas with fewer law enforcement resources where they could distribute controlled substances at a premium price. The Sledge defendants and others used local residences and people for distribution and stash houses to further their criminal activities for monetary gain. In total, twenty-six defendants were charged in the case.
U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland presided over the trial.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Rolette County Sheriff’s Department, Bottineau County Sheriff’s Department, Ward County Narcotics Task Force, Lake Region Narcotics Task Force, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Division of Drug Enforcement, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, North Dakota Crime Laboratory, Michigan State Police, Minot Police Department, United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations.
The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, with Assistant United States Attorneys Dawn Deitz and Lori Conroy assigned with the assistance of lead investigator Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement Special Agent Isaiah Soldier.