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United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Jess Brian Ducheneaux, age 57, of Ridgeview, South Dakota, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises, Distribution to a Person Under Age Twenty-One, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, and Prohibited Person in Possession of a Firearm as a result of a two-day federal jury trial in Pierre, South Dakota. 

The convictions carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, and/or a $1,000,000 fine, a lifetime of supervised release, a $500 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and forfeiture of two firearms.  Restitution may also be ordered.    

Ducheneaux was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 11, 2018, a superseding indictment was filed on January 23, 2019, and a second superseding indictment was filed on January 14, 2020. 

The jury found that between January 1, 2014, and December 17, 2018, Ducheneaux knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation.  Ducheneaux received his methamphetamine from local dealers and from an individual who traveled to Colorado to acquire the drug.  Further, the jury found that Ducheneaux knowingly used his residence for the purposes of distributing and using methamphetamine.  Ducheneaux repeatedly distributed methamphetamine to a person under twenty-one years of age and to several individuals who worked on his ranch. 

The jury also found Ducheneaux guilty of possessing approximately six grams of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it, and two firearms while being a felon and a drug user.  On December 17, 2018, law enforcement officers went to Ducheneaux’s residence to arrest him on a federal warrant.  After making contact with Ducheneaux, the officers observed drug paraphernalia and a firearm in plain view in the living room.  The officers obtained a search warrant and seized the six grams of methamphetamine, a scale, pipes, and numerous plastic baggies.  They also recovered a rifle and a loaded shotgun from the residence.  Ducheneaux was convicted of a felony offense in 2005 and was prohibited from possessing firearms.  

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.

This case was investigated by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook prosecuted the case.

A sentencing date has not been set.  Ducheneaux was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after the jury announced its verdict.   

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