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Charges announced in big drug trafficking ring in Indian Country

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, at podium, announces the charges at a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Lou Raguse / KARE11 / Twitter

Tribal, federal and state authorities announced charges today against 41 people in a major drug trafficking ring that brought heroin and other drugs through two reservations in Minnesota.

Prosecutors identified Omar Beasley, 37, as the ringleader. They said he and his 40 associates distributed heroin, methamphetamine and prescription drugs to the Red Lake Nation and the White Earth Nation.

"The indictment of the Beasley drug trafficking organization is emblematic of our commitment to combatting heroin trafficking in Minnesota," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a press release. "These defendants, led by Omar Beasley, represented the most significant source of heroin in Indian Country. Through close collaboration with our federal, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners, we have shut down this major pipeline that was spreading heroin across the Red Lake and White Earth Indian Reservations and the surrounding communities."

Tribal law enforcement worked with federal and state authorities to investigate and break up the ring. "This is a perfect example of how multiple law enforcement agencies can successfully collaborate against one common enemy that is devastating both Indian and Non-Indian communities alike," Red Lake Public Safety Director William Brunelle said in the press release.

"Many lives, families and communities have been damaged or destroyed from this poison. Now, the hard work of healing and wellness begins!" added White Earth Public Safety Director Randy Goodwin.

All of the primary defendants appear to be non-Indian. But several are residents of Red Lake and White Earth who distributed drugs to their own people and maintained "stash houses" for the drugs on their reservations, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Beasley was previously arrested for distributing prescription drugs at Red Lake and was under investigation for dealing drugs on the Leech Lake Reservation, also in Minnesota, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported in 2009. It's not clear what happened to him in that case.

Get the Story:
Heroin ring centered on two big Minnesota Indian reservations (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 5/28)
41 people indicted for drug trafficking ring that operated in northern Minnesota (The Duluth News Tribune 5/28)
41 indicted in drug ring targeting MN reservations (KARE 5/28)
41 indicted in drug trafficking ring on 2 Indian reservations (Minnesota Public Radio 5/28)