Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force recognized for outstanding achievements


WORTHINGTON – Congratulations to the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force! Thursday night during the annual Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators Conference in Brainerd, the task force was presented the Outstanding Achievement award for their contributions to drug enforcement.

According to Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening, the task force has made 621 arrests over a five-year period. One particular case, evolving from a single suspect interview, turned into a long-term coordinated investigation that led to a large-scale drug distribution network that netted 158 arrests with 51 federal indictments and distribution in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Specific to the investigation, agents conducted hundreds of garbage rips, nearly 50 search warrants, and analyzed data from over 2 million mobile calls. They seized 5,133 grams of meth, 292 pounds of marijuana and quantities of cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, morphine, hydrocodone and other prescription medications. The case also included the seizure of 43 firearms, numerous vehicles and over $93,000 in cash.

As of January 2014, 42 of the 51 targets have been sentenced to an average of 130 months each (a combined 5,469 months of prison time). Additionally, one individual was sentenced to life imprisonment for a methamphetamine-related indictment.

The investigation now spans the United States and into Mexico with case related activities occurring in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, and Tijuana, Mexico. BRDTF agents have worked with and relied upon local, state and federal drug investigators across the nation to build the case while at the same time maintaining a balance of local, lower-level investigations.

Wilkening said the case is a clear example of the importance of sustaining coordinated task forces in Minnesota. The Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force consists of the counties of Nobles, Murray and Pipestone.

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