A former Mitchell man has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Jacob Hubbs, 21, was sentenced for the crime on April 30 at federal district court in Sioux Falls.

Hubbs pleaded guilty to the federal charge in February but was originally arrested in April 2017 when law enforcement executed a search warrant at his Mitchell residence. Police found more than 1,000 light blue pills, later identified as fentanyl, including several pills packaged in plastic bags, according to court documents. Police also found $11,000 in cash in Hubbs' vehicle during the search.

The case was later moved to federal court.

According to federal court documents, Hubbs admitted to conspiring with at least one other person to distribute fentanyl starting in October 2016 through April 24, 2017, and that he purchased the pills on the "dark web."

"I voluntarily and intentionally joined in the agreement or understanding to distribute fentanyl," Hubbs said in the factual basis statement for federal court.

Federal court documents state Hubbs is sentenced to 70 months in federal prison, with three years of supervised release after serving his sentence and must pay a $100 special assessment. The court suggested Hubbs be placed in a federal prison as close as possible to family in Yankton.

This is one of the bigger opioid cases seen in Mitchell in recent years, said Lt. Detective Don Everson of the Mitchell Department of Public Safety. He said the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation initiated the case and several law enforcement agencies contributed to the investigation, including Brookings, Watertown and Yankton police departments, James Valley and Sioux Falls drug task forces, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

"Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug," Everson said. "It's more powerful than morphine and it's easy to overdose because you don't know who made these pills or what's in them. Every time you take an illegal drug, you're taking a chance and you could die."

He added it's tricky for law enforcement to monitor for these types of drugs because they are ordered off the Internet.

In Mitchell, law enforcement watches for patterns to determine if drug use or distribution might be happening. For example, in the past Everson said the police division has seen cases of overdoses where otherwise healthy young people end up in the hospital.

"Every situation is different, but they're all triggered by unusual behavior," Everson said. "Usually it's kids getting sick with the same symptoms, but they are healthy."

Oftentimes, various people will call law enforcement about suspicious activity, including parents, school officials, and Crime Stoppers.

"We rely on the community for help with cases," Everson said. "When a problem like this happens, it really affects the entire community."