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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 17, 2020

Eagle Butte Man Indicted on Drug Trafficking and Firearm Charges

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that an Eagle Butte, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.

Samuel Rufus Swift Bird, age 30, was indicted on September 9, 2020.  He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on September 14, 2020, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.

The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a $1,000,000 fine, at least 3 years, up to life of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.

The Indictment alleges that on August 30, 2019, and May 8, 2020, Swift Bird knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute methamphetamine on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.  Further, Swift Bird having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, and then knowing he had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, did knowingly possess three firearms.

The charges are merely accusations and Swift Bird is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity.  Firearms are tools of the trade for drug dealers.  It is common to find drug traffickers armed with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

The investigation is being conducted by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook is prosecuting the case.   

Swift Bird was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial.  A trial date has not been set.

Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated September 17, 2020