New dealers already filling gap left by meth bust
Date posted: July 26, 2013
SHERIDAN — A local man who was among more than 30 individuals arrested last summer in connection with a large-scale methamphetamine distribution network was sentenced Thursday to five to seven years in prison.
Dale Lee appeared in 4th Judicial District Court this week where he became the latest in a string of convicted dealers to learn his fate.
At his arraignment in August, Lee was ejected from the proceedings after he directed an expletive at Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle.
Throughout the legal proceedings, Lee was portrayed by prosecutors as an important figure in the effort to distribute meth in Sheridan.
He was arrested alongside dozens of others following a multi-year investigation by the Northeast Enforcement Team with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Sheridan Police Department.
NEET is a regional law enforcement team comprised of officers from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office, the Gillette Police Department and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.
NEET team leader Louey Williams told The Sheridan Press that suspects have admitted to distributing at least 15 pounds of meth in the Sheridan area since the investigation began in late 2011.
Williams said that while the arrests resulted in a precipitous drop in local meth distribution activity in the immediate aftermath, other dealers have since stepped in and started to fill the gap.
“It’s yet to be seen how quick it’s going to rebound,” he said. “Where there’s demand, supply’s going to find it.”
In addition to the dozens of individuals who have been prosecuted locally, several others have been prosecuted at the federal level and now face lengthy prison terms.
Warrants for last August’s arrests were authorized by a grand jury — a rarity in the Wyoming legal system.
Investigators said the grand jury was called in order to allow law enforcement agencies to conduct mass arrests in a short amount of time and without word of their operation leaking to other suspects.
Methamphetamine has a street value of about $16,000 per pound.