Las Vegas man last of 9 to be sentenced for trafficking meth between Nevada, Rapid City

The case was investigated by three federal agencies, as well as the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department and multiple state agencies.

Mitchell Republic photo illustration

RAPID CITY — A Las Vegas man was the last of nine to be sentenced to federal prison in connection with a busted drug trafficking ring that saw methamphetamine imported to Rapid City from Nevada.

Jesse Stewart, 47, of Las Vegas, was sentenced in Rapid City to serve 15 years in federal prison, followed by five years of probation, plus make a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund of $100, the U.S. Department of Justice announced April 21.

The conviction stems from a 2019 federal investigation that caught nine individuals working together to funnel methamphetamine across state lines.

In September 2019, federal authorities became aware of the group distributing methamphetamine in and around Rapid City led by a man named Edward Martin.

Over the course of their investigation, authorities confirmed that at least five to 15 kilograms of methamphetamine had been sent to Rapid City from a source in Las Vegas.


From the summer of 2019 to December 2019, Stewart had sold methamphetamine in Rapid City and arranged for Martin to expand trafficking efforts in the area. Using co-conspirators in Rapid City and Las Vegas, shipments of methamphetamine were tracked via mailing services and money was transferred between parties using wire services.

After obtaining a search warrant, authorities conducted a search of Martin’s hotel room on Dec. 19, 2019, and located Stewart in the room with eight ounces of methamphetamine, a firearm, over $5,000 in cash and other items indicative of drug distribution.

Following an indictment by a federal grand jury in January 2021, Stewart pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance on Dec. 10, 2021.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Agency; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Postal Inspector and the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET).

UNET is comprised of law enforcement from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, South Dakota Highway Patrol and the South Dakota National Guard.

Eight others were convicted in the conspiracy before Stewart. They included Edward Martin, Sara Skinner, Carmen Dillon, Keeler Stands, Melanie Vance, Tyler Olson, Christopher James and Kirbesha Bailey.

Following his conviction, Stewart was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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