Authorities say man charged in 'Operation Winter's End' had more than 30 firearms on property

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FARGO, North Dakota — Agents seized more than 30 firearms from the residence of a suspect in a drug conspiracy on North Dakota's oil patch, along with methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and a device meant to alter urine samples, according to new court documents.

Randy Skarda, of Keene, has pleaded not guilty in federal court to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of meth, distribution of cocaine, possession of a short-barreled rifle, and possession of a firearm by a drug user. In order to prove the latter charge, authorities must prove the gun was owned in connection to the drug dealing.

An affidavit filed last week shows that one of the weapons confiscated by agents was a semi-automatic pistol that was illegally modified into a short-barreled rifle. In addition to finding other guns, a search of Skarda's property uncovered a device called a Whizzinator, which is used to help foil drug tests.

Defense attorney Kevin Chapman did not respond Monday to messages left by The Associated Press. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon declined to comment.

The affidavit is part of a motion by prosecutors who want him to forfeit the firearms under a law that prohibits an unlawful user or drug addict from receiving and possessing firearms or ammunition. A judge has not ruled on the complaint.

The document cites two witnesses who said they obtained drugs from Skarda on several occasions. One witness said she obtained meth from Skarda every three or four days for a year. Another said she bought meth and cocaine from Skarda.

Skarda is one of about 70 people charged in an investigation on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation dubbed "Operation Winter's End." Most of the defendants in the case were accused of charges related to dealing heroin.

An FBI agent was shot during the search of Skarda's property in October 2013, but no details have been released and no one has been charged in the shooting. The agent was treated at a hospital and released.

Trial for Skarda is set for Jan. 27 in Bismarck.

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