LETTER: Race is not a factor in drug sales enforcement
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
Odell Branson was charged with two counts of felony third-degree controlled substance sale in Hubbard County for offenses occurring on June 30, 2017 and July 10, 2017. The criminal complaint brought by my office was a result of an investigation by the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force (PBTF) and alleged Mr. Branson sold controlled substances in Hubbard County on both occasions. The PBTF utilized a confidential reliable informant on both occasions.
On Oct. 26, 2018, a jury trial was conducted. A jury of Hubbard County residents found, beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Branson was guilty of both drug sale crimes. Mr. Branson then appealed the jury’s verdict to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the Hubbard County jury’s verdict on Jan. 13, 2020.
The sale of controlled substances in Hubbard County has been and will continue to be a focus of enforcement by my office. Race has not been and will not be a factor in the enforcement of drug sales in Hubbard County. Instead, my office will focus on holding drug dealers accountable, regardless of race.
Mr. Branson was investigated, prosecuted and ultimately convicted because he sold controlled substances. Any argument race was a factor is false.
Editor’s note: An April 4, 2018 Enterprise article, “Major drug bust nets 28 arrests, 1 warrant in Hubbard County,” details the investigations that culminated in the arrest of nearly 30 individuals, including Odell Branson. The vast majority of those arrested and charged were white. The operation involved investigators from the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office and Park Rapids Police Department assigned to the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and the Headwaters Safe Trails Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Task Force.
RELATED: Read the 2018 article here.