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South Dakota town sees increase in felony drug arrests

DEADWOOD (AP) -- Though this city in western South Dakota saw fewer incidents of violent crime and no murders in 2016, it has seen a 130 percent increase in felony drug arrests.

DEADWOOD (AP) - Though this city in western South Dakota saw fewer incidents of violent crime and no murders in 2016, it has seen a 130 percent increase in felony drug arrests.

The Rapid City Journal reported 90 percent of felony drug arrests in Deadwood were tied to methamphetamine use and distribution. Deadwood police have already made 10 felony drug arrests in 2017.

"In my opinion, the illegal distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, prescription drugs and other narcotics is the primary threat to public safety in our region," Deadwood Police Chief Kelly Fuller said in his annual report.

Fuller said the legalization of marijuana in nearby states have driven down prices, causing drug cartels to shift their focus on meth distribution in rural areas.

Fuller said a full-time drug investigator started in the department in January and focuses on drug-related crimes and education, as well as cooperative communications with other local law enforcement agencies.

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"This officer allows us to take a proactive approach to drug investigations," Fuller said. "The way I look at it, if they're selling drugs in Lead or Spearfish it affects all of us. We all have limited resources, so it's important we work together on this issue."

Despite the drug problem, Fuller said 2016 saw some positive trends including a decline of violent crimes, no murders and less arrests made for driving while intoxicated.

The department has 13 full-time, four part-time, four reserve and two ordinance officers. It operates on a $1.1 million annual budget, Fuller said.

Related Topics: CRIME
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