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Battle over police access to cellphone passwords heating up

Americans' cellphones and other digital devices contain a treasure trove of personal information, including private messages, phone call logs and browsing histories. Most of this data is mundane, but some of it could be incriminating if a person is being investigated for a crime. As a result, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota and across the U.S. are pushing to gain access to certain people's cellphones, making privacy advocates nervous.

So far, courts have ruled that law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant before searching someone's cellphone. However, there is still much debate about whether police can compel people to use their passcode, fingerprint or face to unlock their devices. To make matters even more complicated, the rules differ depending on the state someone lives in, and there are currently multiple court cases making their way through state legal systems.

Routine traffic stop results in seizure of 28 pounds of meth

Minnesota State Patrol seized 28 pounds of methamphetamines during a traffic stop in Freeborn County on May 20. Two men were detained as a result of the seizure. Police estimate that the drugs have a street value between $196,000 and $280,000.

Officers initially pulled over the vehicle because it didn't have a front license plate. When troopers approached the men in the vehicle, they noted that they acted nervously. One trooper noted that one man's heartbeat was noticeable through his shirt. When asked where they were going, the men replied that they were returning from a vehicle auction in New Mexico and hadn't been able to stop to sleep.

Keto diet can affect breath test results

Many people in Minnesota expect that breath tests will produce an accurate result that shows whether or not a person was driving while intoxicated. However, some of the more popular diet options can actually produce a false result on this type of test, potentially leading to serious penalties for people falsely accused. The keto diet is based on low carbohydrate consumption that pushes the body into ketosis, where the liver breaks down fat for fuel. When this happens, acetone emerges as a byproduct, and some of that is released as isopropyl alcohol.

This does not lead to symptoms of drunk driving, but it can still register on some breathalyzer tests as alcohol content, without distinguishing it from ethanol, the alcohol found in drinks. This is especially true if a person has had one or two drinks but is still below the legal limit; the isopropyl alcohol can lead them to blow a false positive on the breath test. Police breath test machines carried in their cars are more vulnerable to this kind of error. There is little evidence to show that these machines can differentiate between types of alcohol, especially if both are present in some quantity.

The difference between tax fraud and tax negligence

According to statistics provided by the IRS, about 17% of taxpayers fail to comply with the tax code every year. It's individuals, not corporations, who account for three quarters of all tax fraud every year. Not all tax violations in Minnesota and other states, however, are considered tax fraud. In some cases, the agency recognizes that people make mistakes due to the complexity of the tax code. This is sometimes known as tax negligence.

Tax fraud is a distinct crime in that it involves the willful attempt to defraud the IRS or evade tax law. Fraud can occur when a person or organization intentionally misreports income, makes false claims, prepares false returns or intentionally fails to file an income tax return. Workers paid in cash and self-employed people who run cash-based businesses are most likely to commit tax fraud according to the IRS. Penalties can range from fines to years in federal prison.

Federal agents conduct undercover narcotics sting

A multistate narcotics investigation was concluded in Minnesota on April 4 when two men were taken into custody by federal agents on drug trafficking charges. The investigation began when a vehicle was pulled over in Colorado on April 3 for a minor traffic violation. Troopers from the Colorado State Patrol teamed up with Drug Enforcement Administration agents during the two-day operation.

The series of events began when the CSP trooper who made the traffic stop on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 said they noticed that the man behind the wheel was extremely nervous. When pressed about his behavior, the man is alleged to have given the trooper permission to search his vehicle. During the ensuing search, the trooper says that they discovered a sophisticated hidden compartment containing 55 pounds of a substance thought to be methamphetamine. According to media reports, the compartment was located between the trunk and back seat and opened with a switch.

Two men arrested in Minnesota drug raid

On March 23, two men were arrested and charged with drug distribution after a police raid near downtown Minneapolis. The charges were announced by federal authorities on March 25.

According to media reports, members of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office Violent Crime Enforcement Team executed a search warrant at a luxury apartment located at 111 South Marquette Avenue. During the search, investigators allegedly uncovered two suitcases containing around 64 pounds of methamphetamine, a shoebox containing 3 pounds of heroin and a bag containing unidentified blue pills. They also reportedly discovered two loaded handguns and a significant amount of cash.

A large number of Americans have incarcerated relatives

Minnesota residents may be surprised to learn that a recent study showed that at least one immediate family member of 45 percent of adults in the United States have been incarcerated either in jail or in prison. This figure is a lot higher than what was previously estimated. The survey classified immediate family member as either a parent, sibling, spouse, grandparent or child.

This study reveals that family member incarceration is a more common problem than most people, including experts in the field, had believed. Of all the family members locked up, it is more common for a person to have a sibling who is incarcerated or has been incarcerated. The figures were higher for those with little education and for African-Americans. Both groups had figures that were around 60 percent.

Minnesota men face criminal charges after drug raid

Three Minnesota men face a raft of misdemeanor and felony charges after a search of their Lake Crystal home allegedly led to the discovery of illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, stolen property and a firearm. Agents from the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force say they searched the residence after receiving tips from local residents about suspicious activity including frequent brief visits. The men, who are 22, 25 and 30 years of age, heard the charges against them on Feb. 25 in Blue Earth County District Court.

According to court documents, the 22-year-old man was taken into custody without incident outside the residence when agents arrived at the West Humphrey Street home. The 30-year-old man was allegedly found in an upstairs bathroom with a syringe in his pocket that contained methamphetamine. Agents say that the bathroom also contained a glass plate and a bag containing more methamphetamine. Agents believe the man was attempting to dispose of evidence.

Minnesota man charged with DWI after high-speed chase

A 58-year-old Minnesota man may be regretting his decision to go out for some fast food on the afternoon of Feb. 13. The Clearwater resident was taken into custody by Stearns County police on drunk driving and felony fleeing charges after allegedly attempting to elude officers in a chase that reached speeds of up to 85 mph. The man is said to have told the officers that he fled in order to reach his house so that his pickup truck would not be towed.

The series of events began at about 3:30 p.m. when police received a call from a concerned motorist. The caller told emergency dispatchers that a black pickup truck had run a red light after leaving a fast food restaurant drive-thru and was being driven erratically on State Road 75 in St. Cloud. When officers signaled the pickup truck to pull over, they say the vehicle sped up and even crossed the center line to avoid being stopped.

Drug raid yields massive meth, cocaine haul

On Jan. 31, Minnesota authorities announced a massive drug bust that could be worth well over $1 million. The bust was made during a raid on a property in West St. Paul.

According to local media reports, officers from the Dakota County Drug Force executed a search warrant at the property and turned up 45 pounds of methamphetamine, 15.5 kilograms of cocaine and over $710,000 in cash drug profits. While an official estimate of the monetary value of the drugs has not yet been released, going rates in Minnesota suggest that methamphetamine alone could be worth over $1 million on the street. Meanwhile, the seized cocaine could have a street value of up to $527,000.

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