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Press Release

Mission Man Sentenced on Firearm Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Mission, South Dakota, man convicted of Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person was sentenced on February 1, 2021, by Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange, U.S. District Court.

Robert James Riley, age 40, was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $100.

Riley was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 9, 2020.  He pled guilty on November 5, 2020. 

The conviction stemmed from Riley possessing a handgun in March 2019 near the South Antelope Community on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation while he was a user of, and addicted to, methamphetamine.  Riley admitted to law enforcement he possessed the handgun before he sold it to a methamphetamine trafficker.  The handgun was seized by law enforcement during a traffic stop, which also uncovered methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and a large amount of U.S. currency.  

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:

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

Riley was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated February 5, 2021

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Indian Country Law and Justice