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9 charged in tri-state investigation that led to discovery of over 40 pounds of meth worth $2.5 million

MORRIS, Minn. -  Federal drug charges have brought against nine people in two states after an investigation into methamphetamine distribution in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.


The multistate investigation led to the discovery of over 40 pounds of methamphetamine, worth about $2.5 million, that had been brought into and distributed in Stevens and Douglas counties in west-central Minnesota over the last 18 months, the Stevens County Sheriff's Office announced Monday.

The U.S. Attorney's office in the District of North Dakota charged nine people in federal court with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance.

Craig Ray Johnson, 50, of rural Alberta, Minn., was sentenced to 30 months in prison, Lorelei Ann Dierks, 48, of rural Chokio, Minn., was sentenced to 68 months in prison, Darren James Ascheman, 45, of Alexandria, Minn., was sentenced to 17 years in prison and James Joseph Caswell, 30, of Fergus Falls, Minn., was sentenced to 48 months in prison.

Cynthia Marie Hoffman, 57, of Campbell, Minn., was sentenced to 12 months in an in-patient rehabilitation center.

Scott Andrew Anderson of Fargo, N.D., will be sentenced Jan. 6, and Mitchell Phillip Fink of Tenney, Minn., will be sentenced Dec. 15. Court proceedings are still pending on two others indicted in the case. A tenth person was set to be indicted, but was the victim of a double homicide in Fargo in November 2013.

Because of their criminal histories, Ascheman, Fink, Anderson, and a fourth man have all been identified as career criminals which may carry a sentence of 360 months to life in prison.

The Stevens County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, West Central Drug Task Force, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations and a federal Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force based in Fargo have been involved with this large scale, multi-state methamphetamine distribution investigation,

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