Two men face numerous felony criminal charges following the simultaneous execution of several search warrants Tuesday into a suspected cocaine-selling ring in Brainerd.
The two men, Larry Curtis Tate, 29, Brainerd, and Marcus Jeffrey Washington, 35, St. Cloud, were arraigned Thursday in Crow Wing County District Court.
Tate is charged with four counts of felony first-degree sale of a controlled substance and two counts of felony second-degree conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime.
Washington was charged with two counts of felony first-degree sale of a controlled substance and one count of felony second-degree sale of a controlled substance.
Two others arrested Tuesday, Billi Jo Lewis, 19, and Bridgit Renee Lewis, 39, both of Brainerd, also were charged Thursday in district court. Billi Jo Lewis faces one count of felony fifth-degree controlled substance crime. Bridgit Lewis faces one count of felony fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance and one count of felony fourth-degree conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime.
The arrests and criminal charges were the result of an eight-month investigation into the sale of crack cocaine in Crow Wing County by several agencies: the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division; the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department; and the Brainerd and Baxter police departments.
"There was a lot of hard work and long-term cooperation between agencies. That's the way of the world right now in law enforcement - no one agency can do this stuff by themselves," said Dave Bjerga, assistant superintendent of the BCA.
While Wednesday's arrests were described as a success by Bjerga, he and other law enforcement officials believe the investigation into the sale of cocaine in Brainerd will yield more arrests.
According to the criminal complaint against Tate:
Starting in October and continuing through February a BCA special agent, acting in an undercover capacity, arranged meetings with Tate to purchase crack cocaine. In six meetings with Tate during that time, the special agent purchased more than 70 grams of crack cocaine.
Tate has an extensive criminal history in Minnesota. In Crow Wing County he has pending criminal cases for two counts of felony first-degree DUI and one count of felony fifth-degree controlled substance crime.
Tate is being held in the Crow Wing County jail on $400,000 bail without conditions and $100,000 bail with conditions. His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
According to the criminal complaint against Washington:
From April 6 through May 7, a confidential informant working with the sheriff's department arranged several meetings with Washington to buy crack cocaine.
In six meetings with Washington, or with a woman working with Washington, the confidential informant purchased more than 50 grams of crack cocaine from Washington.
Washington is being held on $500,000 bail without conditions and $150,000 bail with conditions. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 25.
Billi Jo Lewis was arrested after officers found cocaine in her bedroom at her residence on the 600 block of James Street.
Billi Jo Lewis
Following her arraignment Thursday she was released on her own recognizance. Her next court appearance is scheduled for June 11.
Bridgit Lewis was arrested for selling a confidential informant 2.9 grams of cocaine on Washington's orders. She is being held in the Crow Wing County jail on $20,000 bail without conditions and $10,000 bail with conditions. Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 25.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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