(KXNET) — A Detroit man has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for a drug distribution enterprise that targeted Spirit Lake, Turtle Mountain, and Fort Berthold Native American Reservations.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office, United States District Judge Daniel L. Hovland sentenced 32-year-old Darius Sledge, to serve 30 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
In June of 2022, following a 12-day trial, a jury returned guilty verdicts on multiple counts against Sledge and another man from Detroit, for their leadership in a drug trafficking organization targeting three of North Dakota’s Native American Reservations.
Darius Sledge was convicted of Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Money Laundering Conspiracy, and Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premise. Sledge also forfeited his rights to more than $20,000 in seized United States currency.
His trial co-defendant, Baquan Sledge, was also convicted of Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Money Laundering Conspiracy, and Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premise as well as Possession with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone. Baquan Sledge will be sentenced on January 13, 2023.
This case is part of “Operation Blue Prairie,” an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into the multi-state trafficking of oxycodone.
The multi-agency investigation led by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement revealed that the Sledge defendants and their co-conspirators targeted areas with fewer law enforcement resources where they could distribute controlled substances at a premium price. The Sledge defendants and others used local residences and people for distribution and stash houses to further their criminal activities for monetary gain.
In total, twenty-six defendants were charged in the case.
This case was investigated by the following agencies:
- The Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation
- The Drug Enforcement Administration
- Rolette County Sheriff’s Department
- Bottineau County Sheriff’s Department
- Ward County Narcotics Task Force
- Lake Region Narcotics Task Force
- Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Division of Drug Enforcement
- North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation
- North Dakota Crime Laboratory
- Michigan State Police
- Minot Police Department
- United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations.