LONG PRAIRIE - Several suspects arrested in Todd and Wadena counties in 2006 in connection with a methamphetamine distribution ring have been sentenced in federal court, the Todd County Sheriff's Department reported.
Appearing recently in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the following suspects were sentenced on meth-related charges: Jeremy Leroy Berndt, Hewitt, 180 months; Kevin Michael Camacho, Pine River, 23 months; Anthony James Richard Jantz, Hewitt, 146 months; Christopher Joseph Tigges, Wadena, 30 months; and Leonard Joseph Smith, Ponsford, 31 months.
Other individuals are awaiting trial or sentencing, the sheriff's department reported.
In a news release, Todd County Sheriff Peter Mikkelson said the investigation into meth trafficking started in late 2005, early 2006 by the Todd and Wadena county sheriff's departments, the Wadena Police Department, the Central Minnesota Drug Task Force and the West Central Minnesota Drug Task Force.
Mikkelson said the group involved was very organized and received large amounts of meth and marijuana from California for distribution in central and northern Minnesota and in the Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead area.
In March of 2006 the investigation moved from covert to overt, Mikkelson said, when a State Patrol trooper stopped individuals from the trafficking organization on a routine traffic stop. The trooper discovered a wholesale amount of meth and stolen handguns and law enforcement began executing search warrants on the organization's members.
In the first wave of search warrants law enforcement officers seized a half pound of meth, three pounds of marijuana, about $80,000 and numerous stolen firearms, Mikkelson said. Seven people were indicted on federal charges. Mikkelson said investigators believe the organization, in a six-month period of time, was responsible for the distribution of more than 30 pounds of meth in central and northern Minnesota.
Overall, the investigation included the execution of more than 16 search warrants and expanded to include investigation by officials with the sheriff's departments of Becker County, Clay County, Crow Wing County, Cass County; White Earth Tribal Police Department; the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force; Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division; North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. attorney's office.
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