Work of drug task force yields several arrests

By Rachel Kytonen and Jon Tatting
Isanti County News

Several people have been arrested in connection with an undercover drug investigation, including an offender on the Minnesota Department of Correction’s top 10 most wanted list.

The East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force concluded a four-month investigation late last month into drug trafficking and possession of stolen property cases that occurred in Chisago and Isanti counties.

On Nov. 26, search warrants were executed in Rush City at the 30 block of East Fourth Street and in Cambridge at the 2150 block of Cleveland Street Southwest, 1530 block of Cedar Drive Southeast and 1860 block of Joe’s Lake Road.

During the search at the Rush City residence, Task Force members recovered narcotics and found four adult parents and their four children, ranging in age from an infant to 12 years old, who all lived together in the two-story home. The children were considered “endangered” and were placed in child protective services, said Justin Wood, commander of the Task Force and narcotics investigator for the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.

As for the adult parents, the Task Force crew made one in-custody arrest for narcotics and child endangerment, while the other three may also face charges pending review by the county attorney.

“They will be summoned if the county attorney feels there’s justification for their arrest,” Wood noted.

The search and arrest were completed without incident, he added.

Isanti County Chief Deputy Chris Caulk said three people were arrested in Cambridge as a result of the Nov. 26 searches.

However, several people have been arrested the past few months in conjunction with the investigation.

“This investigation led to the arrest of a person who had been on the top 10 most wanted list for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, as well as another person who was involved in a significant amount of drug sales,” Caulk said. “By having this Task Force, we are keeping the drug people on their toes, and it’s highly likely they will get caught. Those involved in this illegal activity need to weigh the consequences with what they’re doing.”

Overall, the results of the investigation netted seven first-degree sales cases, three first-degree possession cases, four second-degree sales cases, two fourth-degree sales cases, three fifth-degree possession cases, two arrests for fugitive from justice warrants, four search warrants, eight child endangerment cases, in which the children were found to be in close proximity to controlled substances, and two recovery of stolen property cases.

In total, more than 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine was recovered during the investigation.

“It was a coordinated effort by multiple agencies,” Wood said. “We see this long-term investigation as a success on the war on meth in Chisago and Isanti counties. The amount seized was a substantial amount for us in the Task Force area.”

Caulk added: “Those arrested as a result of the work of the Task Force are people involved in ongoing drug use, possession and sale. As they become more involved with the life of drugs, they become more involved with a life of theft. Usually when someone is involved in a life of drug possession or sales, they are associated with thefts to supply the habit.”

Task Force sending a message to offenders

The East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force was launched in December 2011 and consists of three investigators from Chisago, Isanti and Pine counties. It focuses on apprehending violent drug offenders and keeping up with the area’s ever-evolving drug scene.

Caulk explained since the state recognizes the Task Force as a valid task force, it pays overtime costs for the investigators and provides funding for needed equipment.

“The Task Force is a prevention tool,” Caulk said. “We will never get all drugs off the streets, but we want to send a message to those involved in this activity that you will get caught, and you will be criminally charged with possession or sale of illegal drugs.”

Caulk said credit needs to be given for the hard work of the Task Force.

“The Task Force allows the investigators to work undercover detail, on undercover investigations and are able to get more involved in the world of drug trafficking,” Caulk said. “In the drug world and thieving world, jurisdictional lines mean nothing. It really helps having the collaboration of our neighboring counties, and we even get involved with the federal drug task force on certain cases. The Task Force has become a very valuable tool.”

Wood has found the Task Force to be an overall success, too, as it begins its third year as a multi-jurisdictional task force next month.

“I feel it’s been a tremendous success with three sheriff’s offices working in partnership,” Wood said. “We’ve also found there’s a lot of ties between the three counties in regard to drug trafficking and usage. The (drug activity) ties between the three counties are obvious.”

Agencies that assisted in the four-month investigation include the Cambridge Police Department, Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, North Branch Police Department, Isanti County Special Response Team and the Minnesota State Patrol.

A listing of current inmates at the Isanti County Jail can be found at http://sheriff.co.isanti.mn.us/custody.

If you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood, you can call the Isanti County Sheriff’s Tip Line at 763-691-2426.

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