North Dakota drug crimes spike on I-94 - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

North Dakota drug crimes spike on I-94

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Drug related crimes along the interstate are way up this year, specifically along I-94.

There were two big drug busts in just two days in Morton County last week.

Gabber was busy Wednesday sharpening his skills.

"It's crucial. As a K9 handler, you're constantly training," Deputy Sheriff James Ellefson with the Morton County Sheriff's Department said. He is Gabber's handler.

It has been working for Gabber and Ellefson.

They made two big marijuana busts on I-94 in two days last week. One resulted in 30 pounds seized. The other was 80 pounds.

"I amazed myself. Two large seizures in two days. Something like that isn't going to happen very often," Ellefson.

But it is becoming more common. Here are the number of arrests on I-94 for drug related crimes in the past five years:

Year                Arrests

2013                215

2014                226

2015                281     

2016                190

2017                478 

"You look at the large seizures, you're mainly going to see it on the interstate," Ellefson said.

"I think a lot of it is the amount of training the guys go through and the amount of traffic on I-94 this time of year," said Sgt. Lyle Sinclair of the Bismarck Police Department.

 In order to keep up with all the new ways suspects try to hide drugs, they train monthly.

"Car fresheners, Vicks...to the dog they'll sort it out," Sinclair said.

"You're looking at different trends. You're looking at different ways people are trying to beat us on the streets. It's almost virtually impossible to beat a dog," Ellefson said.

Especially a dog as well trained as Gabber.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol said marijuana is still the most common drug to find in a bust, but meth, cocaine and heroin are also being moved across the interstate.

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