New Strike Force Bakken to Battle Organized Crime in Montana – North Dakota [YouTube]
State and federal officials are beefing up crime fighting efforts in the Bakken oil patch of Montana and North Dakota.
U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter, along with other officials conducted news conferences on Wednesday in both Bismark and Williston, North Dakota.
KGVO News spoke with Cotter while he was in a Dickinson, North Dakota airport.
"I was at a press conference today in North Dakota at which time the United States Attorney for North Dakota, Chris Meyers, and that state's Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced the creation of the Bakken Strike Force group," Cotter said. "It's a part of Operation Safe Bakken that was created several years ago in a partnership between Montana and North Dakota. This is part of four separate task forces located in major towns of Bismark, Williston, Watford City and Minot with a focus on organized crime in the Bakken."
Cotter said several agencies are combining to provide both intelligence and manpower to fight organized crime in the area.
"These assets are a combination of federal, state, local and tribal," he said. "It is a forced multiplier of agencies to identify organized crime operations that need to be disrupted and dismantled."
"Crimes to be addressed with the strike force include drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution along with both economic and environmental crime," he said. "This is a long term project, because the issues facing Montana and North Dakota are not going to dissipate overnight. This is a battle that will be waged for years to come."
Authorities say that more than 200 individuals in the Bakken area have been indicted on federal narcotics charges since 2013.