A Bernice man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.

Chief Judge John E. Dowdell sentenced Kenneth James Thunderburk, 38, to five years in federal prison. Thunderburk pleaded guilty to the charge in May 2019.

“Methamphetamine continues to be Oklahoma’s number one problem drug. Kenneth Thunderburk exacerbated that problem by dealing meth to addicts in our community. My concern is not only for the users who struggle daily with addiction, but also for their family and friends. Children who live in a household with a meth-addicted parent are often neglected and subjected to dangerous, unpredictable conditions,” said U.S. Attorney Shores. “Dealers like Kenneth Thunderburk must be put out of business and held accountable for the drug fueled misery they spread.”

Thunderburk was arrested in December 2018 after security at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa reported him as trespassing to authorities. He had been banned from the premises in 2017. When a Catoosa police officer located the defendant at a near-by smoke shop, he searched the defendant and discovered methamphetamine and a large amount of cash. The officer who conducted the search is cross-commissioned with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service. After reviewing Hard Rock security footage, investigators concluded that Thunderburk’s behavior while in the casino and during questioning indicated that he was dealing the drug.

“This investigation is a great example of the excellent multi-jurisdictional relationships we have in northeastern Oklahoma,” U.S. Attorney Shores said. “Because of the cross commissions that were in place, local, tribal, and federal officers worked seamlessly together to investigate Kenneth Thunderburk. This is what collaborative policing looks like, and there isn’t any better example in the United States than Northern Oklahoma.”

The Catoosa Police Department, Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Drug Enforcement Administration are the investigative agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott M. Proctor prosecuted the case.