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Detroit drug dealers have arrived on Amtrak trains

Narcotics task force officer testified that he followed males arriving on train

A Ward County Narcotics Task Force Officer acknowledged under oath in January that law enforcement has profiled young men who are arriving in Minot from the Detroit area on the Amtrak train because that has been a hub for drugs arriving in the area.

One such defendant, Larry Devon Jones, 26, Detroit, Mich., pleaded guilty earlier this month in U.S. District Court to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams of fentanyl in the Minot area. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8 in Bismarck. The maximum sentence for the offense is 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation. A plea agreement filed with the court shows that the prosecution has agreed to recommend a sentence at the low end of the range.

Jones had originally been charged in district court in Minot but the charge was dismissed when he was indicted in federal court. According to court documents filed in state and federal court, Jones came in on the Amtrak train from Detroit on Dec. 5, 2019. Shawn Keller, an intelligence agent with the U.S. Border Patrol who is assigned to the Ward County Narcotics Task Force, testified during a preliminary hearing in January that he had been at the Amtrak station in Minot, saw Jones get into a Lyft vehicle outside the Amtrak and that he followed the Lyft to the McDonald’s restaurant near the Dakota Square Mall. They continued to watch Jones and their surveillance ultimately led to the arrest of Jones and Zachary Jonathan Fredericksen, 26, of Minot, who is still charged in district court in Minot with Class C felony possession of heroin and Class C felony possession of drug paraphernalia.

Defense attorney Ashley Gulke raised the issue of law enforcement officers profiling black men who get off the Amtrak train last week at a bond hearing for a client in a separate, unrelated case. She told Judge Gary Lee that the practice is unacceptable and she plans to raise the issue in the case for her client.

Keller testified at the January preliminary hearing in state court for Jones that he follows random people coming from the Amtrak station and he does so because law enforcement are aware that a lot of drugs are coming in from the Detroit area via the Amtrak train.

“I was actually told by Dakota Boles back in, I believe it was 2015, that I need to be aware of just about any black male that comes in from Detroit between the ages of 20 and, I believe he said, 40. That was from a subject that I arrested, and that was words out of his mouth. And that’s – that was where his sources were all coming from,” Keller testified.

A defense attorney asked Keller, “So essentially you target black males from Detroit in that age range?”

“Typically,” Keller replied. “I actually, typically target any male around that age range. And I also typically target females around that age range.”

Drug dealing charges have been filed against black male defendants from Detroit in at least four separate cases in the last six months in the North Central Judicial District. Two of the cases were filed last Friday and are still pending.

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