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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 8, 2019

Mission Man Found Guilty for Methamphetamine Trafficking and Gun Charges

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Eli Erickson, a/k/a Black, age 32, of Mission, South Dakota, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Drug User in Possession of Firearms as a result of a 3-day federal jury trial in Pierre, South Dakota. 

The charges carry a maximum penalty of at least 15 years up to life in federal prison, and/or a $10,000,000 fine, at least 5 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered, as well as forfeiture of numerous firearms and U.S. currency.   

Erickson was indicted on November 14, 2018, and a Superseding Indictment was filed on September 10, 2019. 

From 2015 through 2018, Erickson knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  The trial testimony showed the conspiracy involved importing pounds of methamphetamine from Nebraska and distributing it on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.  During this time, Erickson possessed two firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking operation, namely by using the weapons to protect his home from which he sold methamphetamine.  Erickson also possessed these firearms, and a number of other firearms, while being a methamphetamine user.     

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 was investigated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services; the Stanley County Sherriff’s Office; the Lexington, Nebraska, Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook prosecuted the case.

A sentencing date has not been set.  Erickson was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.  

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Indian Country Law and Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated November 8, 2019