A look into the Interstate 94 drug trade

In tonight’s top story -drug trading in North Dakota. Why Interstate 94 is a prime spot for trafficking across state lines.

Like myself, I’m sure many of you use I-94 to travel, especially between Bismarck and Mandan, maybe even taking a quick trip out out to Dickinson or Fargo. But more often than ever, that interstate is a hub for illegal activity.

“It’s just kind of an area where it seems a lot of illegal drugs are running from the west coast, primarily down to Minneapolis-St. Paul or to Chicago,” said highway patrol trooper Troy Roth.

North Dakota’s Highway Patrol – with drug K9s in hand – are on the forefront of this battle. Drug trafficking on I-94 has been happening for decades, but they say it’s not like it was before. 

Roth said, “I think it has gotten worse. When I first started, I’m sure it was probably happening, but I definitely think we’ve seen an increase in the amount of drugs that come through.”

A lot of those drugs they see are methamphetamine and marijuana. But now, the opioid epidemic plays a major part in what they come across.

“Our pills and opiod problem generally comes from the east like Detriot and Chicago and big inner cities. I-94 is the conduit for all those things,” said Bismarck Police detective Sergeant Mike Bolme.

Taking a look at the big picture. The road starts in Montana with marjuana and mieth, and it travels all the way to Detriot with the opioids and fentanyl. Most of it passes right through the capital city. 

 Sergeant Bolme added, “Bismarck is sort of a central hub for the region for the drug trade.”

There’s no special formula to find the illegal substances. The troopers just look for any suspicious activity in routine traffic stops, and the use of K9s has also helped in those big finds.

“Our job is just basically to make sure that the laws are enforced and to keep the illegal drugs of the streets for people to get to them,” said Roth.

A law enforcement officer’s job is not solely to find illegal drugs. They also need to look out for themselves. 

Since the opioid epidemic has been in the forefront of the drug battle, things have changed in the way officers respond. Keeping Narcan and Naloxone on them is more-so to save themselves in case there’s contact with fetanyl. It’s a drug that if it comes in contact with the skin or is even inhaled cause cause an officer overdose.  

“We also no longer field test unknown white, powdery substances when we seize them, just because of the dangers there. So, we’re always kind of adjusting and changing things, especially for officer safety,” said Sergeant Bolme.

K9 officers also strictly do outside searches to prevent overdoses to the animal. But in case it does happen, handlers have an extra dose of Narcan just for them.
 

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