SOUTHERN UTAH – Det. Mike Bleak of the Cedar City Police Department and Det. Jordan Minnick of the St. George Police Department were recently honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Utah for “superior performance as a local law enforcement officer” in the U.S. v. Dudley federal firearms case.
With a total of 18 years on the force, Bleak has worked in the investigations division for over a decade, helping solve many of the department’s priority cases. He is also a local leader in education and prevention efforts related to the choking game, a “thrill-seeking” activity in which youth asphyxiate themselves or each other using a ligature until they pass out, responsible for about half of the deaths of Iron County teenagers in the last five years. He has spoken at events across the country to educate law enforcement and communities on its dangers, and is helping the Iron County School District develop curriculum that teaches choking game prevention.
“Det. Bleak always produces quality investigations, and this case was no exception,” Cedar City Police Sgt. Jimmy Roden said. “It was no surprise that the U.S. Attorney’s Office wanted to honor (him) with this award. We are proud of Det. Bleak and grateful for his service to the department and our community.”
Minnick’s law enforcement career spans 7 years, during which time he has worked in the gang unit, traffic unit, patrol division and with the fraudulent identity investigation team of the SGPD. He is currently deputized as a task force officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, working mainly on gun-related cases in the St. George area.
“He’s a very hard worker. His cross-deputization with ATF helps us solve some pretty serious crimes carrying federal charges in Southern Utah,” Capt. Kyle Whitehead said. “Through this case, he’s helped foster a good working relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We appreciate him being recognized.”
U.S. v. Dudley involved over 30 pounds of marijuana and nine firearms taken during a burglary of the Blanding Police Department’s evidence storage in August 2011. Bleak served as the local lead, while Minnick assisted as the federal lead via his position with ATF.
“There were a lot of different agencies and people involved,” Minnick said. “It was a pretty unique case.”
“I was the lead investigator on this case, but there were many others involved who helped bring it to a successful resolution, and they deserve credit as well,” Bleak said. “While I’m honored to receive the award, I’m also humbled by it.”
The investigation eventually led to four suspects, including Wesley Plexico, who had been released from federal prison only a few months earlier. They were found to be responsible for a significant number of crimes in both Iron and Washington Counties, including residential and vehicle burglaries.
After the arrests, Bleak uncovered evidence that Plexico was plotting to murder the victims of his burglaries, and tied him to an aggravated assault of a juvenile that he committed using one of the stolen guns. Minnick investigated threats he made against witnesses in the case and discovered notes that he exchanged with another inmate discussing plans to escape from jail, along with a razor blade hidden in his shoe.
With this evidence introduced at sentencing in March 2012, Plexico received 75 months in jail, and the other defendants were sentenced to federal prison time.
“The efforts and coordination of these two detectives contributed to the success of an important and complicated case,” the office said in a statement. “This case is an excellent example of agencies working together to quickly solve a serious crime.”
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