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Special prosecutor approved for western North Dakota

BISMARCK — State lawmakers gave Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem permission Wednesday to hire a special prosecutor who will serve a dual role in federal court to help fight drug trafficking that has followed the oil boom in western North Dakota.

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The Legislature’s Budget Section approved the full-time position and gave Stenehjem the authority to spend $100,000 in federal funds on salary and operating expenses.

The prosecutor will serve as both an assistant attorney general and a special assistant U.S. attorney.

It’s the first dedication of federal resources resulting from a decision in November by the U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy to designate Williams County as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.

Congress provided a $100,000 grant for the position for fiscal year 2013, and Midwest HIDTA Director David Barton said in January that a grant request had been submitted for 2014.

The attorney general’s office is interviewing applicants for the position, spokeswoman Liz Brocker said. The office currently has one assistant attorney general who is also a special assistant U.S. attorney.

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