Traffic stop leads to drug charges, possession of tear gas

A Remer man is facing charges after being pulled over for speeding and possessing over 5 pounds of marijuana and an aerosol can of a defined tear gas compound near the Isanti soccer fields.

Kelsey Ryan Gafner
Kelsey Ryan Gafner

Kelsey Ryan Gafner, 37, was charged on Nov. 18 with two felonies, two misdemeanors and one petty misdemeanor in Isanti County District Court before Judge Amy Brosnahan. The felonies are possessing or using an authorized tear gas compound or stun gun as a felon and fifth-degree drug possession. The misdemeanors are driving with a suspended license and operating a motor vehicle without proof of insurance. The petty misdemeanor is speeding over the limit of 30 mph in an urban district.

Bail for Gafner was set at $100,000 without conditions or $50,000 with conditions, and his next court appearance is set for Dec. 15.

According to court records, Gafner’s prior criminal history includes charges for third-degree controlled substance possession in Anoka County on Jan. 25, 2012; fifth-degree drug possession from Anoka County on Sept. 26, 2007; possessing a firearm as a felon from Anoka County on Sept. 26, 2007; fifth-degree drug possession from Anoka County on June 23, 2005; criminal vehicular operation from Aitkin County on Jan. 22, 2001; and criminal vehicular operation leading to great bodily harm from Hennepin County on Feb. 29, 2000.

According to the criminal complaint:
On Nov. 18, at 1:42 a.m., Isanti County Sheriff Deputy Jonathan Vander Vegt pulled over a vehicle driven by Gafner near the intersection of Jackson Street Northeast and 300th Avenue Northeast in Isanti, after clocking his vehicle’s speed at 47 mph in a 30 mph zone near the Isanti soccer fields.

When Vander Vegt approached him, Gafner was unable to provide proof of insurance for the vehicle and stated he could not do so because he had just purchased it.

After returning to his squad and looking up Gafner’s previous criminal record, Vander Vegt returned to Gafner’s vehicle and noted there were baseball bats readily accessible in the back seat, as well as a running GPS system even though Gafner had stated to Vander Vegt that he was on his way home from work. Gafner’s girlfriend also later arrived at the scene and wasn’t aware of where Gafner was traveling from.

Vander Vegt requested Gafner’s consent to search his vehicle and Gafner agreed. During his search, Vander Vegt found five large food-saver vacuum-seal bags containing what appeared to be marijuana buds in a black duffel bag on the front passenger seat of the vehicle. Vander Vegt also found an aerosol canister of pepper spray in the back seat whose active ingredient was the tear gas compound Oleoresin Capsicum, which Gafner is prohibited from possessing due to his previous criminal record.

A field test confirmed the buds were marijuana, and the combined weight of the bags was found to be 5.3 pounds.