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A week ago, a South Dakota patrolman stopped a car outside Spearfish and found what initial charging documents described as 88 pounds of cocaine.

Now, two Canadian women are under U.S. Marshal custody and facing federal criminal charges in U.S. District Court in Rapid City for intent to distribute the drugs.

According to documents filed in Lawrence County, Brittany Babiuk, a 26-year-old from rural Manitoba, sped eastward erratically on Interstate-90 Wednesday afternoon, attracting patrolman Stuart Griffith's attention.

After pulling her over, smelling what charging documents describe as the "odor of raw marijuana" and noticing "rapid shallow breathing" and "shaking hands," Trooper Griffith released his service dog who indicated a substance in the trunk. 

Next, according to the affidavit, "He (Trooper Griffith) opened the suitcase and could see cellophane wrapped packages, consistent with one-kilogram packages." The search, according to the complaint, revealed forty kilograms or 88 pounds of cocaine inside the suitcases.

Babiuk told the patrolman she was being paid $10,000 to deliver the 40 kilos of cocaine from Los Angeles to Fargo, where she would meet Bethlehem Shah, a 20-year-old from Winnipeg.

The affidavit says "through the course of the investigation," Shah agreed to meet Babiuk in Spearfish, and the next day, on Aug. 2, Shah arrived at the agreed-upon destination, whereupon she and Babiuk were arrested in Spearfish by a special agent from the attorney general's Division of Criminal Investigation.

Those charges in Lawrence County were dismissed after criminal charges were, instead, brought in federal court. According to paperwork filed last Friday, the two women were charged in U.S. Federal District Court in Rapid City with Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, a federal statute that can carry a prison term of years. 

Andrew Schreiner, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, is listed as the complainant on Friday's charging document. Shah and Babiuk made their first appearances before U.S. Magistrate Daneta Wollmann on Monday. A document filed on Wednesday sets a schedule, projecting an October trial.

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Contact Christopher Vondracek at Christopher.Vondracek@rapidcityjournal.com.

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