05/17/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/17/2019 18:09
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Pierre, South Dakota, man and woman have been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.
Andrew Bunch, age 29, and Nicole Hopkins, age 35, were indicted on May 14, 2019, for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Bunch was also indicted for Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person. They both appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on May 16, 2019, and both pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in prison and/or a $10,000,000 fine, a lifetime of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for each Count. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictments allege that beginning at a time unknown, but no later than on or about the 1st day of March 2018, and continuing to on or about the 1st day of February 2019, in the District of South Dakota and elsewhere, Bunch and Hopkins, did knowingly and intentionally, combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with persons known and unknown, to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance.
The charges are merely accusations and Bunch and Hopkins 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.
The investigation is being conducted by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Pierre Police Department, Stanley County Sheriff's office, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan N. Dilges is prosecuting the case.
Bunch was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and Hopkins was released on bond pending trial. A trial date has not been set.