Wanblee Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

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A syringe with ampoules, white powder, a five-dollar bill with bullets and a gun lying on a black glass background. Dangerous bad habits, addiction to drugs and gambling. Crime because of drugs.

Acting United States Attorney Dennis R. Holmes announced that a Wanblee, South Dakota, man convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, and Obstruction of Justice, was sentenced on November 12, 2021, by District Court Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Wicahpe “Chops” Milk, age 38, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and a $300 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Milk was indicted for all three charges by a federal grand jury in September 2016.  He was found guilty at the close of a jury trial held June 28 – July 2, 2021.

Beginning in approximately January 2015, Milk obtained methamphetamine in California and transported it to South Dakota.  He also recruited others to transport the methamphetamine.  Milk sold the methamphetamine in western South Dakota and recruited at least 15 other people to do so for him.  The communities where the methamphetamine was distributed included Rapid City, Wanblee, Pine Ridge, Kyle, Mission, Box Elder, Martin, and Allen.  In August 2016, Milk was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Pennington County Sheriff’s Office deputies.  Milk fled from the deputies and was arrested after a short foot pursuit.  In the vehicle, Milk possessed a firearm and methamphetamine.  Because of a prior felony conviction, Milk was prohibited from possessing any firearms.  After his arrest, Milk repeatedly engaged in efforts to obstruct the case by writing letters to witnesses with content designed to affect their testimony, including threats, promises, and coercion.

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This case was investigated by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and Badlands Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is comprised of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement, Martin Police Department, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn N. Rich prosecuted the case.

Milk was immediately returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

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