Graduate’s path after NSU led to decorated 30-year career in law enforcement

Male law enforcement officer photo

After graduating from Northern, Brian Schutt went to work building custom homes in Dallas but soon, concerns over the economy prompted him to seek a more steady job.

Schutt was also remodeling homes on the side with a Dallas County District Attorney Investigator, who suggested he hire on with a police department.

Schutt took that advice, joining the Irving (Texas) Police Department. Little did he know that would lead to a 30-year career a career during which he earned 54 commendations and eight meritorious department awards, as well as his taskforce receiving awards for best cases nationwide and the IRS Excellence Award from the executive office in Washington, D.C.

For Schutt, that decorated career had roots in South Dakota and Northern.

Originally from Arlington, South Dakota, Schutt graduated from Northern State College in 1984 with a degree in secondary education. While at Northern, he played football for the Wolves in 1979, 1980 and 1983. He also played coed intramural softball and volleyball and was a member of Epsilon Pi Tau.

Schutt said his advisor at Northern, Marvin Burroughs, showed great patience and care while helping him along his path.

Career included SWAT, Narcotics

Schutt’s path eventually led him to his career in law enforcement. After three years on patrol, he transferred to SWAT full time for six years. In that role, his duties included executing high-risk search and arrest warrants, dealing with hostage situations and suicidal individuals, and dignitary protection.

His next assignment was narcotics, where he spent 21 years including three undercover, before moving to a plain-clothes position on an Organized Criminal Drug Enforcement Taskforce. On this taskforce, Schutt worked on money laundering cases involving Mexican drug cartels, primarily the Gulf Cartel and the Zeta Cartel, investigating the international movement of currency from their illegal activities.

Book Published About Case

One of the cases he worked involved the Zeta Cartel, run by ex-special force Mexican soldiers who laundered money from the sale of cocaine and marijuana through the American Quarter Horse Association auctions and races.

“They were purchasing the best racing horses at inflated prices, winning numerous high-stakes races and opening breeding facilities to launder the illegal funds through,” Schutt explained. “They were fixing the races at every stage so that they won.”

In the end, the taskforce seized 500 racehorses, ranches, businesses, planes and bank accounts, totaling more than $150 million in assets. A book, “Bloodlines,” was even published about this case.

Final Case Spanned 15 Years

Schutt’s last case for which he was lead agent involved a Zeta who had established the cartel’s cocaine connections in Colombia. He went to trial and received several life sentences. Many “sicarios” (hitmen) testified. During the trial it was shown he was responsible for the movement of over 300 tons of cocaine, over 150 tons of marijuana, the purchase of hundreds of military weapons and the movement of over $1 billion in U.S. currency.

“I started the case in 2003 and finished the trial in 2018 after I had retired,” Schutt said.

Now retired and living in a small city outside the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, Schutt has also taught international classes on money laundering and has testified as an expert witness for narcotic trafficking. He and his wife, Katherine, have been married for over 30 years.

‘Always Tell the Truth’

Schutt said he’s been impressed with the changes to his alma mater over the years.

“I have been back to Northern and amazed how much the campus has developed,” he said.

Now that Northern has a criminal justice program, Schutt said he would consider speaking to NSU criminal justice students either in person or via videoconference.

For now, he offered these words of wisdom.

“My advice to students who are interested in law enforcement is to always tell the truth,” Schutt said. “And do not watch the news which involves any event you are involved in. It will make life less stressful.”