South Dakota Universities Battling Criminal Networks

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Four universities in South Dakota are partnering on a new center to disrupt criminal networks.

The schools will use a $4 million state grant to create the Center for Understanding and Disrupting the Illicit Economy.

South Dakota Mines in Rapid City, South Dakota State University in Brookings, Dakota State University in Madison, and the University of South Dakota in Vermillion are involved in the project.

Dr. Jon Kellar is a professor at South Dakota Mines. He will lead a team focused on identifying counterfeit goods.. Kellar said it’s a widespread problem that can have big implications.

“Let’s say you buy a counterfeit purse, you think, well, I got a good deal and it looks good. And well, you probably think it’s a victimless crime,” he said. “Well, in fact, those products are being used by terrorists to generate cash to fund their networks.”