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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Dakota
For Immediate Release
Alison J. Ramsdell, United States Attorney
Sunday, September 17, 2023

North Dakota Woman Sentenced for Conspiracy To Distribute a Controlled Substance and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm

PIERRE - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange, U.S. District Court, has sentenced a Mandan, North Dakota, woman convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm. The sentencing took place on September 11, 2023.

Sarah Jahner Clifford, age 45, was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $200.

Clifford was indicted by a federal grand jury in September of 2022. She pleaded guilty on December 8, 2022.

The conviction stemmed from a drug conspiracy beginning in January of 2021 and continuing until July of 2022. Clifford was involved in an extensive conspiracy with several other individuals to distribute methamphetamine in and around the central South Dakota area, including on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation and the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. Clifford received significant quantities of methamphetamine from sources in Denver, Colorado. Clifford and others would transport the methamphetamine back to South Dakota where it was sold by Clifford and those working for her.

As part of the conspiracy Clifford possessed various firearms, including a Stevens Arms shogun and a Raven Arms pistol. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) confirmed the shotgun has a barrel length of 14 inches and is not registered to Clifford in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record as required by law. Further, Clifford is a felon and prohibited from possessing any firearms.

This case was investigated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, the Northern Plains Safe Trains Drug Enforcement Task Force, and ATF. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan N. Dilges prosecuted the case.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department 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.

Clifford was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.


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