Posted 12/30/14 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
A two-vehicle accident that occurred at approximately 12:39 p.m. on Dec. 22, at the junction of N.D Highways 68 and 16 in southwest McKenzie County, resulted in the arrest of three illegal immigrants on drug and immigration charges.
According to Travis Bateman of the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Dept., the three Hispanic males who were in a four-door sedan failed to stop at a stop sign and crashed into a tanker truck. The three fled the scene of the accident on foot, which prompted a response from the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office and its K-9 team, along with agents from the U.S. Border Patrol.
According to Bateman, the K-9 team began its search at 1:20 p.m., and tracked the subjects for a distance of nearly three miles through rugged badlands terrain and grassland. Two of the males were captured approximately 10 minutes apart at about 3 p.m., one by a North Dakota State Highway Patrol trooper at a ranch, and the second by a McKenzie County deputy and the K-9 team.
The third suspect continued fleeing southeast from the area resulting in a lengthy search into the night before the trail was lost and the search was suspended. Several ranchers in the immediate vicinity were alerted and also requested law enforcement to search their homes and outbuildings.
During the search, a jug of laundry detergent was located that was tossed during the flight from the crash. The jug contained approximately 30 grams of methamphetamine with an estimated street value in western North Dakota of $6,000.
The following day, deputies searched the area again, with the assistance of area ranchers, and did not have any contact with the third suspect.
On Dec. 24, the U.S. Border Patrol notified the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office that the third suspect had been captured near Williston, after reports of drug sales being made at a location there.
One suspect has since been processed for deportation, and the other two remain in custody pending local and federal charges in relation to the incident. One suspect has been deported 33 times and will be charged with felony immigration violations.