Acting United States Attorney Dennis R. Holmes announced that Wicahpe “Chops” Milk, age 37, of Wanblee, South Dakota, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, and Obstruction of Justice following a five-day federal jury trial in Rapid City, South Dakota. The verdict was returned on July 2, 2021.
The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and/or a $10,000,000 fine, 5 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. The other charges each carry a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Wicahpe “Chops” Milk was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 20, 2016. Milk was released from federal custody in January 2015 and soon after began obtaining methamphetamine in California. He arranged for the methamphetamine to be transported to South Dakota for further distribution. Eventually Milk began transporting the methamphetamine himself and selling it in South Dakota to his network of distributors. On August 17, 2016, law enforcement stopped Milk’s vehicle and located methamphetamine and a firearm. Due to a prior felony conviction, Milk was prohibited from possessing a firearm. After his arrest, Milk engaged in extensive witness tampering efforts in an attempt to influence the testimony of witnesses.
This case was investigated by the Badlands Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is comprised of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement, Martin Police Department, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety. Further investigation was also conducted by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn N. Rich and Gina Nelson prosecuted the case.
A presentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing date was set for October 1, 2021. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.