Drug house busted in Erickson AcresResidents of Erickson Acres in Cloquet got an early Christmas present from area law enforcement last week, when a team of officers from four different agencies busted a suspected drug house. Those neighbors who weren’t awakened by the 1 a.m. police operation – including a foot chase that ended on Heather Avenue – woke up to see the house at 1304 Jean Marie St. wrapped in crime scene tape.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Residents of Erickson Acres in Cloquet got an early Christmas present from area law enforcement last week, when a team of officers from four different agencies busted a suspected drug house. Those neighbors who weren’t awakened by the 1 a.m. police operation – including a foot chase that ended on Heather Avenue – woke up to see the house at 1304 Jean Marie St. wrapped in crime scene tape.
Folks living in the quiet neighborhood likely weren’t surprised, as there had been repeated calls to law enforcement about suspicious activity at the rented home, police said.
Although Cloquet police conducted the investigation, they were assisted by members of the Carlton County Sheriff’s Department, Fond du Lac Police and the Minnesota State Patrol in the actual search and subsequent arrests. State Patrol officer Matt Respet caught one suspect who fled the house without any shoes on.
The following people were charged in relation to the Friday morning bust in Carlton County Court Monday afternoon:
• Harry Donte Mayes, 25, was charged with third-degree felony drug possession, a gross misdemeanor charge of introducing contraband into a law enforcement facility and misdemeanor charges of obstructing the legal process and fleeing a peace officer;
• Christina Ann Lau, 22, was charged with three counts of fifth-degree felony drug possession;
• Vincent Edward Merrill, 23, was charged with one count of fifth-degree felony drug possession;
• Matthew John Payment, 20, was charged with one count of fifth-degree felony drug possession; and
• Jason Wade Anderson, 24, was charged with three counts of fifth-degree felony drug possession.
Police said it was an extremely “sophisticated” drug operation, with ties to Detroit and the Twin Cities, as well as Duluth. On at least one occasion, drugs were sewn into a stuffed animal and transported from the Twin Cities to Cloquet. Other times, suspected dealers would travel by bus to Duluth and be picked up at a bus station there.
According to the report, Mayes was one of several outside people – all known by street names rather than their own – who would bring drugs from Detroit to the Twin Cities and on to Cloquet. Rather than simply sell the drugs to dealers, the alleged dealers would supervise subsequent deals and also handle any monetary transactions. In some cases, police said, buyers were apparently trading stolen goods for drugs as well. Mayes was known in the area only as “Scoot.”
Cloquet residents Anderson and Lau were renting the house on Jean Marie Street, but they also rented out rooms to other people. As well, according to the police report, the larger drug operation was paying $600 toward the monthly rent. The house in Cloquet was used as a point of sale for drugs, as well as a place to stash drugs. In addition, judging by the sheer number of used hypodermic needles officers found scattered around the residence, it appeared that buyers would sometimes purchase drugs in the home, inject them there and leave under the influence.
According to the police report, Cloquet police had the house under surveillance for three months and observed a high number of known drug users coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Mostly prescription narcotics were sold, including Xanax, Lortab, Opana and Oxycontin, all highly addictive drugs. Officers also found a high amount of Ecstasy as well as some marijuana in the
Police said illegal use of prescription drugs is a problem in the Cloquet area.
Users can crush the drugs and inject them after making them into a liquid, possibly a contributing factor in the increased number of cases of chronic Hepatitus C in Carlton County. Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus, commonly transmitted through the use of injection drugs. Many of the recent cases reported in the county are in the 20- to 30-year-old age bracket.
Investigations are ongoing in the case.