United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Mission, South Dakota, man and a Mission, South Dakota, woman have been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.
Robert James Riley, age 40, was indicted on March 9, 2020, for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person. Harvi Lynn Sharp Butte, a/k/a Harvi Lynn Little Shield, age 43, was indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. They both appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on March 12, 2020, and pled not guilty to their respective Indictments.
The maximum penalty Riley faces upon conviction is life in federal prison and/or a $10,000,000 fine, a lifetime of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. The maximum penalty Sharp Butte faces upon conviction is forty years in federal prison and/or a $5,000,000 fine, a lifetime of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that beginning on or about February 1, 2019, and continuing to March 5, 2019, Riley and Sharp Butte, knowingly and intentionally, combined, conspired, confederated and agreed with each other and others, to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. Further, on March 5, 2019, Riley, knowingly being an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance, knowingly possessed a firearm.
The charges are merely accusations and Riley and Sharp Butte are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity. Firearms are tools of the trade for drug dealers. It is common to find drug traffickers armed with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The investigation is being conducted by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook is prosecuting the case.
Riley and Sharp Butte were both remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.