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Investigation of narcotic sales in St. Cloud leads to 3 arrests

Agents from the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force arrested two women and one man in St. Cloud after investigating the Black P-Stone gang for heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine distribution. The investigation lasted several months. However, drug purchases by undercover agents ultimately enabled law enforcement to obtain a search warrant on Aug. 29 for the residence of a 25-year-old woman.

Police reported finding 40 grams of heroin in a shoebox at her home along with a .45-caliber bullet. Due to her conviction for assault in 2017, she had been banned from possessing firearms or ammunition. A charge for possessing ammunition as a felon accompanied her felony drug possession charge.

Minnesota man with long DWI history charged after serious wreck

The Dakota County attorney's office issued an arrest warrant for a 59-year-old man from Rosemount this spring for his role in a serious four-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 52. His arrest took place in July, and he remains jailed at the Dakota County Jail with bail set at $250,000.

The man has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1979. This includes 17 DWI convictions, theft, carrying a gun without a permit, disorderly conduct and domestic assault. He currently faces extensive charges that include first-degree DWI, gross-misdemeanor for driving with a canceled license and felony criminal vehicular operation that caused great bodily harm.

Task force helps take several into custody

Authorities in Minnesota reported that seven people had been taken into custody on drug charges. Four people were taken into custody near the White Earth Indian Reservation as the result of action taken by the Paul Bunyan Task Force. During that raid, investigators say that they recovered 32 grams of heroin and a gun at a residence in the area.

Police were able to purchase heroin from a 48-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman at the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. The man was charged with first-degree sale of a controlled substance. Another person was taken into custody at the Paul Bunyan Mall, and heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine was taken from that person in addition to mushrooms.

Woman facing DUI and drug charges after traffic stop

Authorities have reported that a 51-year-old woman was charged with both driving while under the influence of alcohol and drug possession following a routine traffic stop on the evening of Feb. 10. A subsequent breath test is said to have established that the woman's blood alcohol content was actually below Minnesota's .08 percent legal driving limit. Media accounts indicate that the woman was transported to the Washington County Jail after being taken into custody at the scene.

A state trooper pulled the woman's car over on Interstate 494 in the vicinity of 10th Street after responding to reports of an erratic driver in the area of Valley Creek Road. Upon approaching the vehicle, the trooper detected the odor of alcohol and noticed that the woman's eyes were watery and bloodshot. Reports indicate that the woman had difficulty maintaining her balance when exiting her vehicle.

5 arrested in Minnesota drug bust

On July 5, authorities in Minnesota arrested five people for alleged drug offenses after a raid in Ideal Township. The operation was conducted by officers with the Lakes Area Drug Investigation Division, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and the Baxter Police Department.

According to media reports, officers executed a search warrant at a home on the 10000 block of County Road 16. During the search, they uncovered over three pounds of methamphetamine, ammunition and a large amount of cash. The methamphetamine has an estimated street value in excess of $16,000. A representative of the Crow Wing Sheriff's Office said the raid was conducted as the result of tips from the public and an ongoing investigation.

Woman faces DWI charge after crash

A 34-year-old woman was charged with two counts of driving while intoxicated after crashing her vehicle in Ham Lake, Minnesota. The accident occurred at 10 p.m. on June 15, and authorities say that the woman had a blood alcohol content of .175 percent when it took place. Authorities also said that she initially claimed that she had not been driving the vehicle when it went off of the road.

However, officers believed that she was impaired when they made contact with her. Later, the woman admitted to driving the vehicle and to consuming alcohol prior to doing so. According to the woman's relatives, she was not supposed to be driving the car as she was on a variety of medications. After calling her attorney, the driver refused to take a breath test and tried to kick the officer who took her into custody.

DNA exonerates man convicted with eyewitness testimony

Some people in Minnesota who have been convicted of crimes using eyewitness evidence may have been wrongly identified. In California, a man was exonerated of rape charges after serving eight years in prison when DNA evidence showed he did not commit the crime. The man had been identified by both the victim and a witness.

A co-director of the California Innocence Project says that initial errors in eyewitness identification are often compounded and solidified over time. A witness might identify a photo in a lineup that most resembles the person they saw. Later, for the in-person lineup, they will then identify the person from the photo. By the time the trial happens, these multiple rounds of identification will have reinforced the witness's confidence that the right person has been chosen. In the rape case, the victim said she was 70 percent certain at the time she made the photo identification, but by the time of the trial, she said she was 100 percent certain. Seeing the man in person reinforced her certainty. A witness who made the same identification was from another race, and studies have shown a higher rate of inaccuracy in cross-racial identification.

States step up alcohol laws on the road

Some people in Minnesota are advocating for even stricter alcohol laws, claiming that new laws will help cut down on the number of accidents linked to drunk driving. During 2016, over 1 million people were arrested nationwide and charged with driving under the influence. Some claim that the number of drunk driving arrests represent only a small percentage of the total number of people who actually drive while intoxicated every year.

In every state of the country, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration for drivers is .08. The Centers for Disease Control says that this regulation has improved road safety but attribute 29 car accident deaths daily to drunk driving. A number of states are stepping up enforcement of a number of laws pertaining to alcohol and driving. These include the use of sobriety checkpoints and harsher enforcement of laws requiring bars and stores to only serve alcohol to those aged 21 or older. In addition, some advocates are urging states to raise taxes on alcohol purchases. States that increase alcohol enforcement and penalties can reportedly reduce the number of drunk drivers and related crashes.

Supreme Court rules that rental car drivers have privacy rights

Many Minnesotans rent cars each year, and some people allow others who are not on the rental agreements to drive them. On May 14, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that people who are not on the rental agreements for the cars that they have borrowed still have privacy rights against warrantless searches of the vehicles.

In the case, a man was pulled over while he was driving a rental car that his fiancee had rented. He was not on the rental agreement, however. The police reportedly noticed that he appeared to be nervous, and he allegedly told them he had a marijuana cigarette. The police then searched the whole vehicle, including the trunk. They told the man that they didn't need a warrant since he was not the authorized driver of the car.

Steve Wilkos' DWI charge will likely be erased

For most Minnesota fans, Steve Wilkos is best known as the former bouncer for the Jerry Springer Show and a TV host in his own right. For some law enforcement officers, Wilkos is best known as a man they took into custody for DWI after his car flipped in a single car accident. Now, it appears he may resolve his DWI arrest without having a conviction on his record.

The story of Wilkos' arrest has taken some twists and turns. Wilkos flipped his car in January, leading to injuries severe enough to cause his show to temporarily stop filming while he recovered. Wilkos' original story was that he was having trouble driving at night and lost control of his vehicle as he was reaching for his eyeglasses. However, it has since come to light that Wilkos was taken into custody by Connecticut police for DWI after the crash. Wilkos reportedly later admitted to the arrest, citing a lack in judgment.

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