(STL.News) United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Boulder, Colorado, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.
James Rutledge, age 49, was indicted on November 10, 2020. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on November 23, 2020, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is a mandatory minimum 10 years, up to life in federal prison and/or a $10,000,000 fine, at least five years, up to a lifetime of supervised release, and $300 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that beginning at a time unknown, but no later than on or about the March 1, 2020, and continuing to on or about November 10, 2020, Rutledge did knowingly and intentionally, combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with persons known and unknown, to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in central South Dakota. Further, on or about August 28, 2020, Rutledge did knowingly and intentionally possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and then being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, did knowingly possess a handgun, which had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce and foreign commerce.
The charges are merely accusations and Rutlege is 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.
The investigation is being conducted by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan N. Dilges is prosecuting the case.
Rutledge was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.