Drug bust results in eight arrests, two warrants
A several-month-long drug investigation involving multiple drug traffickers within Hubbard County culminated in arrests this week.
According to a Hubbard County Sheriff's Office news release, agents identified several people involved in the distribution and use of controlled substances. Agents conducted controlled purchases of methamphetamine and prescription drugs as well as a firearm from a convicted felon.
The investigation concluded on Tuesday with the arrest of eight people, and felony arrest warrants have been issued for two individuals. The news release states that agents seized methamphetamine, prescription opioids, cocaine, butane hash oil and marijuana.
Agencies involved in the operation included the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office, Park Rapids Police Department, Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, Akeley Police Department and the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
• Daryl Troxel, 50, Laporte is charged with first-degree sale of methamphetamine. According to the complaint, the total amount of meth sold by Daryl directly or as an accomplice from March through May 2018 was approximately 20 grams.
• Cody Troxel, 27, Laporte is charged with third-degree sale of methamphetamine. A confidential reliable informant (CRI) was told by Cody's father, Daryl, that Cody had meth for sale. According to the criminal complaint, the CRI arranged a controlled purchase and Cody sold approximately 2 grams of meth.
• Timothy J. Lydell, 50, Park Rapids is charged with third-degree sale of a narcotic. According to the complaint, a CRI conducted a controlled purchase of meth from Lydell's residence at Park Avenue Apartments. The amount sold was about .5 grams.
• Elizabeth Glatzmaier, 34, Park Rapids is charged with third-degree sale of a narcotic. The criminal complaint states that a CRI conducted a controlled purchase of meth from Glatzmaier's residence at Itasca Apartments. The amount sold was about 5.78 grams. She was previously convicted of fifth-degree controlled substance in June 2010 and two counts of third-degree assault in Dec. 2013.
• Margaret C. Snook, 21, Park Rapids is charged with third-degree sale of methamphetamine and prescription pills. The complaint states that a CRI conducted a controlled purchase of .52 grams of meth and 37 morphine pills.
• Ethan R. Boyd, 26, Park Rapids was charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. According to the criminal complaint, during a probation check at Boyd's residence on Oct. 30, agents found 17 Suboxone (buprenorophine) strips, a controlled substance. Boyd submitted to urine test which was positive for cocaine and Suboxone. He was previously convicted of second-degree controlled substance crime Sept. 2015 in Hubbard County.
• Joseph Roberts, 33, Park Rapids was arrested for a probation violation.
• Kristie Zaskie, 43, Park Rapids was arrested on a supervised release (parole) violation.
There are active felony arrest warrants out for Eric R. Wirkkala, 41, Park Rapids for third-degree sale of a controlled substance and Angela Burnside-Stewart, 37, Park Rapids, for a felon in possession of a firearm.
In March, a similar drug bust lead to the arrest of 28 suspects for various felony-level offenses involving the sale and possession of illegal drugs.
Colter Diekmann is a Hubbard County Sheriff's investigator, Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force agent and Headwaters Safe Trails Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Task Force agent.
"Our main objective is to take drug dealers and drugs off the streets," he said. "There's certainly some new faces on this operation that we didn't have last time, but that's also part of the problem. If we take one trafficker off the street, somebody else takes their place at some point, so we have to be on our toes and understand that we have to continue plugging away."
Diekmann noted that court prosecution can take from six months to one year. For example, the individuals arrested in March are just now entering the trial phase of the judicial process.
"The biggest challenge that we have is the sentencing guidelines with a lot of these and the fact that, while they are out on bail, we're dealing with these people again and again and again while they're in their court process," Diekmann said.
In August 2016, the state "drastically reduced" sentencing guidelines for drug sales offenses, Diekmann said. Minnesota also works on a point system.
"If they're a first-time offender, the chances of them going to prison is slim to none. For trafficking drugs, it takes sometimes a second and maybe third time before they get convicted," he said.
Meanwhile, "the influx of meth in the state of Minnesota is at an all-time high," Diekmann continued. This can be attributed to increased meth production, plus the amount of heroin entering the U.S. has driven meth prices down, he said. "So it's a lot more accessible at a cheaper price."
The public can provide information about illegal narcotics activity by calling the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force at 218-333-8130 or the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office at 732-3331.
Akeley sees improvements
Akeley Police Chief Jimmy Hansen said the arrests to date have made his community a better place.
"We've thrown a hand grenade into the drug world" he said, adding, "It's easier to spot a flare-up when you put the forest fire out."
Drug traffickers are either on their way to prison, in jail or have moved away, Hansen said, pointing out that where notorious "drug houses" once stood in Akeley, "we have working class citizens there now, productive citizens."
This Halloween, Hansen noticed that families from Onigum and Walker came to Akeley to trick-or-treat "because it's too dangerous over there, but they look at Akeley now as a safe community."
Hansen said adding a second Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force member to the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office made a huge difference. Drug interdiction is very much a collaborative effort and Hansen is passionate about it.
"What's most satisfying is making people responsible for their actions, and that's what we, as law enforcement, are doing," Hansen said.