The North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) is experiencing a substantial increase in the amount of drug trafficking arrests made by state troopers during recent months. State troopers have a history of success with detecting and arresting personal use narcotics violators. Detecting the larger quantities of drugs and drug currency moving across state highways is a greater challenge. Drug trafficking generally refers to the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.
The increase is most easily depicted by analyzing NDHP drug arrest activity during the past 19 months. State troopers discovered approximately 20 pounds of marijuana, ½ pound of methamphetamine and seized over $5,000 of drug-related money during the 12 month time period of September 2008 through August 2009. From August 2009 through March 2010, they have seized over 216 pounds of marijuana, 7 pounds of methamphetamine, and over $50,000 of drug money. Arrests for drug possession with intent to deliver are also on the increase. State troopers have made 49 arrests for intent to deliver violations since September of 2008. Over half of these 49 delivery charges were made during the past six months.
Much of the Highway Patrol’s drug interdiction success stems from specialized training that the troopers have been receiving. This training, combined with cooperative efforts between law enforcement agencies, is proving successful. “The troopers are getting zeroed in and are starting to hit their interdiction stride,” stated NDHP Lieutenant Jody Skogen. “Subtle clues that were overlooked in the past are now setting off warning bells, and those warning bells often signal the end of the road for drug users and traffickers alike.”
State troopers are not doing anything different that what they have always done. While traffic enforcement has proven to be one of the most effective means of increasing traffic safety, it also serves as an effective means of both deterring crime and detecting criminal activity. “These drug and currency seizures are being made by troopers who are performing their primary functions of traffic enforcement and community policing,” stated NDHP Colonel James Prochniak. “Traffic safety will continue to be the primary mission of the Highway Patrol. We will remain vigilant and do our part to keep North Dakota roadways and communities safe.”
The NDHP has a K-9 program that further enhances the agency’s drug interdiction abilities. The program consists of nine K-9 teams strategically located across North Dakota. Last year these teams logged 159 narcotic searches, 32 school searches, 29 safety talks, five tracks for missing or fleeing subjects and two evidence searches. The K-9 teams accounted for 83 misdemeanor arrests and 27 felony arrests during 2009.