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Non-Indians enter pleas in Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe marijuana case






The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe was planning to open a marijuana resort in a building that housed the Royal River Family Entertainment Center in Flandreau, South Dakota. Image from Google Maps

Two non-Indians who helped the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe with a failed marijuana operation entered pleas in South Dakota state court on Monday.

Jonathan Hunt, 43, pleaded guilty to one count conspiracy to possess marijuana, the Associated Press reported. He served as vice president of Monarch America, the firm that was helping the tribe with the marijuana resort.

According to the complaint in State of South Dakota v. Hunt, Hunt planted marijuana on the reservation after seeds were received by the tribe from an overseas company.

The other defendant in the case is Eric Matthew Hagen, 34, who served as president of Monarch America. He pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess more than ten pounds of marijuana.

"I am yet unaware of any evidence, any evidence, that my client possessed even a gram of marijuana," attorney Mike Butler told the Associated Press outside of court on Monday.

The two non-Indians are the only people who have been charged in connection with the tribe's ambitious plan to grow and sell marijuana on the reservation. Although the activity occurred in Indian Country, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley claims he has jurisdiction to enforce the state's drug laws there.

The tribe burned all of its crops and canceled plans to open the resort on December 31, 2015, out of fear that federal authorities would raid the operation.

Read More on the Story:
Advisers charged in tribe’s marijuana resort enter pleas (AP 8/15)

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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