BAXTER -- Three people were arrested on drug charges Thursday after attempting to shoplift several packages of a cold medicine commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine.
The suspects, Barbara Johnson, 32, Aitkin, Steve Puranen, 28, Cambridge, and Gerald Elling, 35, Aitkin, were arrested at Super One grocery in Baxter after store security apprehended the three while they were trying to steal 23 packages of cold medicine, said Capt. Dale Walz of the Baxter Police Department.
Cold medicines contain the amphetamine Pseudoephedrine, which when mixed with other chemicals are used to make methamphetamine.
Officers from Baxter and the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division responded to the grocery store and, with confirmation from a drug-detecting dog, searched the trio's van and found drug residue and paraphernalia, said Walz. The arrests were made about 4:30 p.m.
Johnson, Puranen and Elling were charged Friday with first-degree conspiracy to commit a controlled crime. Johnson also was charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and child endangerment.
Johnson and Puranen posted bond and were released from jail. Elling is being held in Aitkin County Jail due to overcrowding in the Crow Wing County Jail.
The van was impounded for further investigation, Walz said.
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