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Press Release

Pine Ridge Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Meth Trafficking

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

United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced that a Pine Ridge, South Dakota, man convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person was sentenced on July 8, 2022 by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Lew Bettelyoun, age 46, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Bettelyoun was indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance by a federal grand jury on September 18, 2018.  On October 23, 2018, additional charges were added for Carrying a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Offense and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.  He pleaded guilty to Counts I and II on June 3, 2022.  Bettelyoun was responsible for distributing at least 500 grams of methamphetamine on the Pine Ridge Reservation during his involvement in the conspiracy.  He obtained methamphetamine and distributed it to others, knowing those persons would engage in additional distribution.  Bettelyoun also possessed firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking conspiracy.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case was investigated by the Badlands Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is comprised of agents from the FBI, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement, Martin Police Department, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn N. Rich prosecuted the case.

Bettelyoun was immediately returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated July 12, 2022

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