Sheriff's Office

Drug Task Force

Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force

If you have any information about illegal narcotics activity, please contact the task force at 218-333-8130 or submit your information online.

  Any information sent to the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force is confidential and will be used for law enforcement purposes only.
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To focus law enforcement efforts on individuals involved in the sale, distribution and use of illegal narcotics. The task force is a cooperative effort on behalf of Beltrami County, the City of Bemidji, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cass County, Hubbard County, the City of International Falls, Koochiching County, Leech Lake Reservation, Mahnomen County, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, the City of Park Rapids, and the White Earth Reservation.
At present, there are 13 full-time Agents and one National Guard Analyst assigned to the task force which is supervised by Commander Joe Kleszyk of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office.


1. To protect citizens by targeting drug users and distributors.

2. To identify gang members and deter gang related activity.

The Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force was started in 1988 under the supervision of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Since the task force’s formation, its members have included counties and agencies in the Northern Minnesota area, including at different times throughout the 26 year history: Becker County, Beltrami County, Cass County, Clearwater County, Crow Wing County, Hubbard County, Koochiching County, Lake of the Woods County, Mahnomen County, Ottertail County, Red Lake County, Roseau County, Pennington County, the City of Baudette, the City of Bemidji, the City of Park Rapids, the City of Warroad as well as the Leech Lake Reservation, White Earth Reservation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

As of 2018, the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force is made up of the agencies of Beltrami County, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cass County, Hubbard County, Koochiching County, Leech Lake Reservation, White Earth Reservation, the City of Bemidji, the City of International Falls, and the City of Park Rapids. There are currently 12 full-time Narcotics Agents assigned to PBDTF.

The current boundaries of the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force encompass over 8,000 square miles and the population of over 71,000 people.  The region served is made up of some of the poorest communities in the state.  It is mostly rural and remote, made up of small farm towns and one urban area: Bemidji.  

Because of the unique nature of this population, the federal government has stepped up its efforts to enforce the laws regarding drug trafficking, violent crimes, and gangs with the formation of the FBI Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force. The Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force works very closely with, and shares Agents with the Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force.   



Methamphetamine use is a serious problem in the region. A large portion of seized narcotics in the task force area is methamphetamine. The majority of the methamphetamine brought into the task force area trafficked in from out of the state.  Methamphetamine traffickers continue to be a main focus for the task force.

Production, which had been a large problem in this area, has been significantly reduced because of the precursor laws which have taken affect in Minnesota.  More often being seen are ‘one-pot’ methamphetamine labs. These are usually found abandoned and are treated by agents as a full lab. The task force has 2 agents certified as Meth Lab Technicians who can disable and neutralize methamphetamine labs. The production of methamphetamine in the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force area has been on a steady decline since its peak in 2001 and 2002, due in part to very intense, proactive investigations by the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force.  Agents continue to monitor the advances of new manufacturing methods, and will adapt investigative techniques to meet these advances. 

Marijuana Cultivation

The Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force sees three different types of marijuana grows: wild, outdoor and hydroponic.  Outdoor marijuana grows are initiated with starter plants that are grown inside a building in a controlled environment until weather permits, the grower moves the plants outside, sometimes on to state, county or private property.  Hydroponic marijuana grows are when plants are grown specifically indoors under artificial conditions. The plants are started and grown in several different stages to ensure the grower with a continuous supply of mature marijuana plants to harvest.  Wild marijuana grows have been found in numbers of 10 to 1000 plants.  Marijuana grows are an annual challenge for the task force and will continue to be a problem.


Starting in 2013, there has been an influx of heroin in the task force area, with minimal heroin activity prior.  This trend can be partially attributed to changes in prescription medications. Some regularly abused medications have been changed to a ‘time release’ and users did not receive the same result from use.  The task force is seeing previously unimaginable amounts of heroin coming into the area through large scale dealers, normally from out of state. These large dealers have been targeting the task force area, specifically the Red Lake and White Earth Reservations.


The Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force has seen large scale conversion of powder cocaine into crack cocaine.  The majority of the cocaine purchased and seized in the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force area is in the rock form (crack cocaine).  Agents have seen that crack is the preferred form of cocaine by both dealers and users.  Trends have shown crack cocaine has had a significant decline in the area.    

The main distributors of pharmaceuticals ranges from juveniles, to recreational users, addicts and large scale dealers.  Drugs of abuse are obtained mainly through fraudulent prescriptions and diversion by patients and health care workers who are in a position to handle or dispense them.  When there is a scarcity of other illicit narcotics in the task force area there tends to be an increased demand for pharmaceuticals.

The predominant gangs operating in the Paul Bunyan Gang and Drug Task Force area are: Native Mob, Back of Town Mob and Native Gangster Disciples.  There are numerous juvenile gangs that are specific to our area, and are on the rise in numbers and criminal activity.  These gangs include but are not limited to: Blood Stone Villain Pirus, Shadow Mob, 3AK (Third Avenue Killers) and many different sects of Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples.  A high amount of the area’s gang activities have some type of narcotics trafficking crime and/or firearm violation.  A large amount of property crimes in our area involve theft of firearms which are then either modified and/or traded for narcotics or other firearms.   Information about “turf” issues and drug-related drive-by shootings are not always reported to law enforcement, and tend to be received second and third hand.

Vandalism crime by gangs has always been a constant in the area and gang graffiti has become more prevalent.  Property crime is a common activity, especially for the juvenile gang members. However, there is valid information on adult members dealing in stolen property for drugs and weapons. 

During the summer celebrations in our area the juvenile members of area gangs are more active, attempting to control certain areas of the community events.  Other intimidation factors are more related to the area schools, i.e. assaults, recruiting activities, threats, graffiti and other disruptive behavior. 

There is a great deal of violent crime in the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force area.  Some of these crimes are reported to law enforcement, but the contributing factors are often withheld by victims and witnesses. Many other violent crimes go unreported because victims don’t want to deal with law enforcement and fear retaliation by the perpetrators.  An attempt to quantify how much drugs and drug dealing influence violent behavior would be speculative.

There have been numerous incidents where people under the influence of drugs, looking for money to buy drugs, or negotiating with other criminals to buy drugs have committed murders and assaults.  It is the primary goal of the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force to enforce narcotics laws to provide the people of the area a safer community.