For Immediate Release
McLaughlin Couple Indicted on Drug and Firearm Charges
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a McLaughlin, South Dakota, couple have been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, and Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises Near a Playground.
Brady James Claymore, age 32, was indicted on January 14, 2020, for Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm. The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a $1,000,000 fine, at least 3 years up to a lifetime of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
Michelle Rose Helper, age 35, was indicted on January 14, 2020, for Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises Near a Playground. The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
Claymore and Helper appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William D. Gerdes on January 30, 2020, and pled not guilty to the indictments.
Claymore’s Indictment alleges that beginning on the 1st day of January, 2010, and continuing to September 24, 2019, in South Dakota, Claymore, knowingly and intentionally, combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed with others to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. It further alleges that he possessed several firearms, including an unregistered short-barreled shotgun, while knowingly being an unlawful user of and addicted to marijuana in McLaughlin, South Dakota.
Helper’s Indictment alleges that between 2011 and 2019, she intentionally and knowingly used and maintained a place in McLaughlin, South Dakota, for the purposes of distributing and using marijuana within 1,000 feet of a playground.
The charges are merely accusations and Claymore and Helper 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.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The investigation is being conducted by the Mobridge Police Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook is prosecuting the case.
Claymore and Helper were released on bond pending trial. A trial date has not been set.