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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Dakota
Alison J. Ramsdell, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, April 19, 2024

District of South Dakota Seizes 368 Illegal Firearms in 2023

SIOUX FALLS - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that over the course of 2023, federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies seized 368 firearms that were possessed in violation of federal law. In the same year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota charged approximately 93 defendants with illegally owning, possessing, using, or obtaining one or more such firearms. 

“Through these firearm seizures, we are confident law enforcement agencies prevented countless violent and drug-related crimes from occurring in communities across South Dakota,” said U.S. Attorney Alison Ramsdell. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is grateful for the strong law enforcement partnerships in South Dakota, which allow us to combine federal, state, and tribal resources to target some of the most dangerous individuals in our state and remove illegal firearms from our streets.”

Efforts to seize illegal firearms are the result of close cooperation between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), South Dakota State Highway Patrol, and numerous sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state, including Sioux Falls and Rapid City. 

“Illegal firearms trafficking simply cannot be tolerated as it directly fuels violent crime within our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Travis Riddle, of the St. Paul Field Division. “We at ATF will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners across South Dakota to pursue these perpetrators of violence. We are grateful for the strong partnerships forged over the years that have led to these impactful investigations. We are also grateful for the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in South Dakota, which has been the essential catalyst in bringing these violent perpetrators to justice.”

“Maintaining strong partnerships within our law enforcement community is incredibly important to ensure successful firearm investigations like these,” said Jamie Holt, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) St. Paul Special Agent in Charge. “Investigating and prosecuting organizations and individuals involved in these types of crimes results in safer communities with less gun violence.”  

Some of the major firearms-related cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2023 include:

United States v. Sam Boyd—In the fall of 2020, Defendant began obtaining methamphetamine from a co-conspirator in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Defendant then distributed the methamphetamine to others for distribution. Throughout the conspiracy, Boyd routinely possessed multiple firearms and ammunition, despite being prohibited from doing so due to a prior felony conviction. Boyd proceeded to trial and a jury found him guilty of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Prohibited Person. Boyd was sentenced to 23 1/3 years in federal prison. The case was investigated by the DEA, ATF, and Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team.

United States v. Weston Clausen, Jaylen Ducheneaux, and Ford Traversie—Three Defendants burglarized Reloaders Corner, a licensed federal firearm retailer in Isabel in August of 2022. The three Defendants broke into the firearms business after hours and stole 105 firearms, ammunition, and other items. Some of the firearms were then illegally trafficked to other individuals. Several of the stolen firearms have been recovered in various communities in South Dakota, Colorado, and throughout the Midwest. Tragically, one gun was recovered at the scene of a suicide by a 17-year-old teenager. All three Defendants pleaded guilty to Theft of Firearms from a Federal Firearm Licensee and Third-degree Burglary. Traversie was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison; Clausen was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison; and Ducheneaux was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. All three Defendants were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $20,188 to the victim for the unrecovered firearms. The case was investigated by the Dewey County Sheriff’s office and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe law enforcement, as well as the ATF, BIA, and FBI.

United States v. Travene Tyrone Myers—Defendant was arrested on July 10, 2023, after having been reported of using a firearm to threaten his then girlfriend. When officers searched Myers’ vehicle, they located a fully loaded, semi-automatic pistol under the driver’s seat, which Myers, a previously convicted felon, admitted to possessing. Myers was sentenced to seven years and eight months in federal prison. The case was investigated by HSI, the Sioux Falls Police Department, and ATF.

United States v. Harold Salway, Jr.—Over a 13-month period, Defendant purchased at least 43 firearms, acting as a straw purchaser for many of the transactions. More than a dozen of these firearms later showed up in crimes committed in Rapid City and on the Pine Ridge Reservation, including two homicides, two suicides, and other shots-fired calls. Law enforcement also located several juveniles involved in criminal activity who were found to be in possession of firearms purchased by Salway. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to unlawful user in possession of a firearm, use of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and false statement during the purchase of a firearm. The case was investigated by the ATF and the Rapid City Police Department.

United States v. Antoine Thomas—Defendant was arrested on February 10, 2022, in possession of nearly 550 grams of methamphetamine, 31 grams of M-30 pills containing fentanyl, multiple firearms, and ammunition. Thomas was previously convicted of robbery twice and also illegal possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty to multiple drug and firearms charges and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. The case was investigated by the FBI, ATF, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sioux Falls Police Department.

This District of South Dakota’s prosecution of illegal firearms 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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