Seven charged so far in wave of Northland arrests for heroin, other drugsThe Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force arrested 13 alleged heroin dealers among 23 drug arrests Wednesday night and has targeted nine more people for arrest, Duluth police Lt. Steve Stracek said Thursday.
The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force arrested 13 alleged heroin dealers among 23 drug arrests Wednesday night and has targeted nine more people for arrest, Duluth police Lt. Steve Stracek said Thursday.
“Operation Brownstone,” six months in planning, was successful enough in identifying people that police say are heroin traffickers that Stracek devoted part of his news conference to talking about getting help for the addicted.
Authorities have seen an increase in heroin trafficking and overdoses of the drug in the Twin Ports. The operation is named after brown powder heroin, the type most often seen in the Twin Ports.
“We’re trying to at least cut off some of the sources here and then start with some plans to perhaps get some help for those folks that are addicted,” said Stracek, supervisor of the department’s Organized Crime Bureau.
“We hope to send a message obviously to drug dealers that they are going to jail if they sell drugs, first and foremost,” he said. “Our next step, hopefully, will be some type of resource for the users … maybe get some treatment facilities or treatment opportunities for those folks.”
Stracek said authorities believe the heroin is coming from Detroit and the Twin Cities.
Criminal complaints have been filed against seven defendants so far on charges related to heroin and other drugs. Those charged range in age from a 21-year-old woman to a 56-year-old woman. Eight people were arrested as associates of the dealers. Two of the people were arrested on charges relating to methamphetamine. A 16-year-old is being held in the Arrowhead Juvenile Center on preliminary charges of third- and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.
The task force is made up of members of the Duluth, Superior and Cloquet police departments and the St. Louis, Carlton and Lake counties’ sheriff’s offices. Its goal is to investigate, track and dismantle the leadership and infrastructure of criminal organizations, including those involved in the distribution of controlled substances.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service also took part in the sting.
Stracek said most of those arrested operated alone and no one was identified as being a kingpin or leader. The arrests were made without incident and no firearms were found. Two vehicles were seized, which could be forfeited if it is proven that they were used in a criminal enterprise.
Investigators used “cooperating individuals” to make controlled buys of the heroin from dealers.
Those charged in State District Court in Duluth on Thursday were: