United States Attorney Mac Schneider announced that Devonsha Dabney a/k/a Kemell, age 29, of Detroit, Michigan, appeared before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte, U.S. District Court, Fargo, ND, on October 10, 2023, for his leadership in a drug trafficking organization targeting two of North Dakota’s Native American Reservations. Dabney pled guilty to Continuing Criminal Enterprise and admitted to forfeiture allegations involving US Currency, jewelry, and more. Dabney was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison, 4 years of supervised release, and $100 special assessment.
This case is part of “Operation Letter to Reub,” an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into the multi-state trafficking of oxycodone and fentanyl laced pills. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
A multi-agency investigation led by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement revealed that Dabney and his co-conspirators targeted areas with fewer law enforcement resources where they could distribute controlled substances at a premium price. Dabney and his coconspirators used local residences and people for distribution and stash houses to further their criminal activities for monetary gain. In total, forty-one defendants were charged in the case including members of 5674 Reub Gang, IUR (Iced Up Records), and CCL (Chicken Chaser Loyalty).
Law enforcement learned of a drug trafficking organization affiliated with the 5674 Reub Gang, a violent street gang operating out of Michigan, which was involved in transporting thousands of oxycodone/fentanyl pills to North Dakota for distribution, in Bismarck, ND, Minot, ND, Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. As part of this organization, in approximately 2015, Reuben Rambus began trafficking oxycodone pills from Detroit, MI, to North Dakota. After he died, his brother, Romel Rambus, took over operations and worked with the Devonsha Dabney, to distribute narcotics in North Dakota. Multiple individuals identified Devonsha as the leader of the pill operations in North Dakota beginning in approximately 2017. He recruited individuals from the Detroit, MI, area, as well as local users, to distribute pills for him and oversaw their activities.
Pill supplier turned trafficker, Jonathan B. Walker, a/k/a Jay, was sentenced on October 2, 2023, to 180 months incarceration, 5 years of supervised release, and $500 in special assessment fees. Walker pled guilty to various drug trafficking offenses including Continuing Criminal Enterprise. Jonathan Walker entered the drug trafficking organization initially as a supplier of opiate pills to Dabney and others but began trafficking pills in North Dakota himself after concerns of money coming up short. Walker collaborated with others and had several individuals working under his direction. These individuals would transport shipments of pills utilizing rental vehicles to assist in the distribution and sales of pills in North Dakota and other states, as well as collect drug proceeds that were returned to Walker.
“Drug traffickers who think Indian country is a soft target because of a perceived lack of law enforcement resources ought to think again,” Schneider said. “This sentence shows that if you prey on tribal communities, you will be doggedly pursued by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and you will face justice as a defendant in federal court. The success in this case is a product of the determination of our career prosecutors and the cooperative, multi-agency approach taken by our law enforcement partners.”
“We are grateful to the US Department of Justice and all other agencies. This includes our own MHA Division of Drug Enforcement, who also played a role in this investigation leading to the arrests of these individuals,” said Chairman Mark N. Fox, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, Fort Berthold, ND. “We will continue to fight against illegal drug traffickers that are entering our boundaries and are extremely dangerous to our people.”
“Today as tribal and state citizens of North Dakota, we at Spirit Lake Tribe are grateful for the determined work by all agencies to combat the dangers of drug trafficking and abuse in our communities,” said Chairwoman Lona J. Street, Spirit Lake Nation, Fort Totten, ND. “This is a result of excellent teamwork displayed by all local, state, and federal agencies.”
“Devonsha Dabney thought he could come out unscathed while plaguing our streets with poison,” said James Deir, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Detroit Division. “This multi-state collaborative effort with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our federal, tribal and local partners in North Dakota resulted in Mr. Dabney finding out about accountability.”
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (Detroit), the Drug Enforcement Administration, Ward County Narcotics Task Force, Metro Area Narcotics Task Force, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Division of Drug Enforcement, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, North Dakota Crime Laboratory, and Minot Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, with Assistant United States Attorneys Dawn Deitz and Alex Stock assigned with the assistance of lead investigator Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement Special Agent Isaiah Soldier.