- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News and The Searchlight to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Monday, Sept. 8, 12 inmates were incarcerated, Valley County Detention Center was holding two females and the Fort Benton Detention Center was holding four males to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail as of Monday, Sept. 8: Adam Alonzo, 31, Williston, N.D./San Bernadino, Calif., criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell; Michael Conant, 34, McCabe, partner family member assault, felony criminal mischief, felony assault on a peace officer; Scott Crain, 27 Froid, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, obstructing a peace officer and misdemeanor criminal mischief; Andrew Giles, 32, Wolf Point, criminal contempt warrant and driving without a valid driver’s license; Tina Houim, 50, Tioga, N.D., criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and DUI; Gary Jones, 44, Mesa, Ariz., assault on a peace officer with injury; Jason Knight, 37, Spokane, Wash., criminal possession of drug paraphernalia; Timothy Oglesby, 31, Hot Springs, Ark., out of county warrant; Jeremy Sepanski, 30, Plentywood, forgery, theft, obstruction of a peace officer; Amber Taylor, 29, Wolf Point, criminal possession of dangerous drugs; Hilrio Velasquez, 33, Riverside, Calif., possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia; and Cameron Watson, 19, Malta, criminal possession of dangerous drugs [marijuana], criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Written by John Plestina
Listening To Concerns -- Fort Peck Tribes Chairman A.T. “Rusty” Stafne listens as Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., fields a question. (Photo by John Plestina)
Concerns that human trafficking could become a larger issue in eastern Montana and an increasing drug problem, especially the proliferation of methamphetamine, were major concerns expressed to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter during a listening session in Greet the Dawn Auditorium on the Fort Peck Community College campus in Poplar, Thursday, Aug. 28.
The westward creep of Bakken Oilfield development into Montana was blamed for the spike in crime.
“Montana and North Dakota have been hit especially hard,” Tester said of crime problems. “Bad actors are attracted to the profits [of Bakken trafficking].”
“We are already seeing negative impacts of oil and gas development with no benefits to us,” A.T. “Rusty” Stafne, chairman of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, said.
Two people asked Tester and Cotter if the oil boom is worth the drug and other crime problems and the heavy trucks on the roads.
“It’s hard to imagine, but it is here in our region,” Cotter said.
He said victims of human trafficking are trafficked for prostitution or labor.
“Since the Bakken oil boom has happened here in the last 10 years, we have seen an increase in our area with illegal drugs and human trafficking that goes along with that,” Capt. Jim Summers of the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice said.
He added that his department was focused mainly on drug crimes and that the proportions of the methamphetamine problem have increased significantly in recent years.
Summers said additional funding is needed for more and better paid investigators and officers.
Cotter said some of the drug trafficking is directly linked to cartels.
Cotter also said there has been an influx of oilfield workers into eastern Montana, many of which are young males, and many averaging $100,000 in annual earrings with substantial disposable incomes making them attractive to those trafficking in prostitution and drugs.
A woman said she was from the Bakken-impacted Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota and that methamphetamine impacted 30 new-born infants at Fort Berthold.
“So far in Montana, we have only seen sex trafficking,” Cotter said, but added that labor trafficking could come to the Bakken.
The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, as well as any commercial sex act performed by a person under 18 years of age.
Labor trafficking often targets illegal immigrants and includes forced labor debt bondage for transportation from another country to the United States, and is covered under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. It amounts to slavery.
Cotter said human trafficking purveyors often target vulnerable female victims raised in low-income, single-parent households. He said victims rarely come forward and when information is provided to law enforcement, the sources usually are other people with knowledge of the trafficking.
There are 61 federally-funded task forces addressing human trafficking that operate in all 50 states. They include the Montana Human Trafficking Task Force, established by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana in 2012.
Montana Assistant Attorney General Melissa Schlichting said the AG’s Office gives human trafficking a high priority.
Since 2010, 25 people have been charged for human trafficking crimes in South Dakota. Half of the victims were young Native American girls.
Cotter said several human trafficking cases have been successfully prosecuted in Montana and nearby states. They include William Richard Nielsen, of Missoula, who is serving a 40-year sentence in a federal prison. Cotter said Nielsen used the internet to lure a 12-year-old girl from Wyoming to Missoula in 2009, drugged and raped her. Cotter also talked about Iraqi refugee Mohammed Alaboudi, of Sioux Falls, S.D., who the U.S. Attorney in South Dakota said had drugged young girls and forced them into prostitution. A federal judge sentenced Alaboudi to four life terms earlier this year.
“North Dakota and South Dakota have successfully prosecuted cases that involved Native Americans as procurers and victims,” Cotter said. Some of those cases involved crimes committed in Williston.
Also cited was jurisdictional issues because of the presence of the reservation and that city, county, state and tribal law enforcement have agreements in place that allow them to work together.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office Jail Administrator Melvin Clark represented Sheriff Freedom Crawford, who did not attend the meeting.
Clark said man camps are a law enforcement issue.
“When we try and track them down, they’ve got a new place already,” he said.
The RCSO is under staffed.
“We’re down on the east end of the county. We can’t give as many officers to the reservation,” Clark said.
He added the deputies cannot afford rental housing in the Culbertson and Bainville areas.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has several agents based in Glasgow that work with all law enforcement agencies in the region.
Project Safe Bakken, comprised of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and others in Montana and North Dakota, is working to reduce human and drug trafficking and other crime in the area. Law enforcement in Montana and North Dakota and federal authorities share information.
Cotter asked the public to report known or suspected human trafficking.
“The public always has a place to go with evidence of human trafficking,” Cotter said.
To report a human or drug trafficking case, contact the FBI in Glasgow at 228-2533. Other law enforcement agency telephone numbers are: Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice, 768-5332; Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, 653-6216; and Wolf Point Police Department, 653-1093.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Culbertson Saddle Club hosted the annual Labor Day weekend trail ride through the countryside near Culbertson. Here, Brett Finnicum is seated on his wagon and Kenneth Arneson is in front of the horses.
Enjoying lunch during the Labor Day weekend trail ride are (from left to right) Bella Tibbs, Kylie Portra and Chloe Burks.
Taylor Bridges rides away during the annual Culbetson Saddle Club Labor Day weekend trail ride.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
This year’s Trowel and Error horticulture tour was held Tuesday, Aug. 19, in Culbertson as a cooperative effort of the Fort Peck Reservation Extension and Roosevelt County Extension offices. (Submitted photo)
The 2014 Trowel and Error horticulture tour was held in Culbertson, Tuesday, Aug. 19, as well as the Rain Barrel Workshop, Thursday, Aug. 21.
Participants got to see landscaping ideas, grapes growing, gardening in small spaces and larger spaces, unique container gardening and companion planting.
Tour stops this year included Jo and Mark Nelson, Bob Larsen, Don and Myrna Oelkers, Sharon and Gene Schmitz, Latisha Logan, Melba Anderson, and Kim and Clint Jacobs.
Observers were delighted with the beautiful gardens and unique ideas that everyone has, but also had the chance to ask questions as to why they do what they do and if they have any issues with their plants.
The second part of this horticulture week was a rain barrel workshop. Both tours were sponsored by Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant obtained by Wendy Becker, Fort Peck Reservation Extension agent, and Ann Ronning, Roosevelt County Extension agent.
The rain barrels were constructed in a hands-on workshop to conserve water and use the rain water for plants and landscaping. They were given all tools needed to construct the barrels, each one in the group was helped with the process.
Becker taught them how to set them up at their locations and begin conserving water.
If you have any questions on how to construct your own rain barrel, contact the Fort Peck Reservation Extension office at 768-3431.
- Written by John Plestina
Adam Lucatero Alonzo, 31, of Williston, N.D. and San Bernadino, Calif., withdrew a not guilty plea and pleaded guilty in 15th District Court to criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, Wednesday, Aug. 26, after signing a plea agreement.
Judge David Cybulski accepted the plea and found Alonzo guilty.
Alonzo testified that he had methamphetamine, syringes, small plastic bags, a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, digital scale, 10 cell phones and $991 in cash and paraphernalia in his possession.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Alonzo and Hilario Velasquez, 34, of Williston, N.D., and Riverside, Calif., Sept. 25, 2013, following a traffic stop on U.S. Hwy. 2 eastbound, between Bainville and Culbertson. Alonzo was driving.
A jury convicted Velasquez, of two drug charges in 15th District Court, Friday, Aug. 1.