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15 charged in Northland meth investigation

Top row: Benny Ray Urrutia, Kristeen Lorraine Bradsteen, Christopher Cline Smith, Alyssa Dyan Hunt, James Halvor Ophus Middle row: William Bancroft Lovejoy, Andrew Gary Jennissen, Damien Michael Saylor, Rebecca Marie Paitrick,Johnathon Gregory Maio Bottom row: Mark Harold Bailey, Matt Brime Bailey, Lancintino Antawan Flemino, Kaitlyn Suzanne Todnem, Darin Leland Harder1 / 4
A months-long investigation initiated by the Cloquet Police Department resulted in the seizure of more than $10,000 in cash from suspected drug dealers. Cloquet Police Department photo2 / 4
Police seized more than 1,100 grams of drugs in "Operation Spring Cleaning," including these 780 grams of suspected methamphetamine. Cloquet Police Department photo3 / 4
This package of nearly 480 grams of suspected methamphetamine was among the more than 1,100 grams of drugs seized by police in "Operation Spring Cleaning." Cloquet Police Department photo4 / 4

A monthslong investigation of illegal drug sales in and around Cloquet has resulted in charges against at least 15 people in Carlton and St. Louis counties, authorities announced Tuesday.

The Cloquet Police Department in February launched what it has dubbed "Operation Spring Cleaning" — an effort to round up major local distributors of controlled substances, particularly methamphetamine.

Partnering with federal, state, county and local agencies, Cloquet authorities said they seized more than 1,110 grams of meth, eight grams of heroin, 30 grams of marijuana, $10,000 in cash and five vehicles.

Police said undercover agents purchased controlled substances from more than 20 people over the course of the operation. Fifteen people have been charged to date, but police said some investigations are still ongoing and additional arrests are expected.

It is the second major drug crackdown announced in the Northland in recent months. In March, more than two dozen people were charged in state and federal court after a cooperative investigation into what authorities described as a "large heroin trafficking network" across Northeastern Minnesota.

Assisting in "Operation Spring Cleaning" were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, East Central Drug Task Force, Carlton and St. Louis County sheriff's offices, and the Fond du Lac and Moose Lake police departments.

Formally charged in State District Court are:

• Lancintino Antawan Flemino, 40, St. Louis County, aiding and abetting first-degree sale of meth

• Kaitlyn Suzanne Todnem, 22, St. Louis County, aiding and abetting first-degree sale of meth

• Darin Leland Harder, 52, St. Louis County, first-degree sale of meth, first-degree possession of meth (three counts), second-degree possession of meth

• Johnathon Gregory Maio, 33, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth, second-degree sale of heroin

• Mark Harold Bailey, 59, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth, second-degree possession of meth

• Matt Brime Bailey, 38, Carlton County, second-degree sale of meth, third-degree possession of meth

• Rebecca Marie Paitrick, 60, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth, fifth-degree possession of meth

• Damien Michael Saylor, 36, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth, second-degree possession of meth

• Andrew Gary Jennissen, 31, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth, third-degree possession of meth

• Alyssa Dyan Hunt, 28, Carlton County, aiding and abetting third-degree sale of meth, child endangerment

• James Halvor Ophus, 28, Carlton County, third-degree sale of meth

• William Bancroft Lovejoy, 33, Carlton County, second-degree sale of meth, third-degree possession of meth

• Benny Ray Urrutia, 39, Carlton County, third-degree possession of meth

• Kristeen Lorraine Bradsteen, 24, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth

• Christopher Cline Smith, 34, Carlton County, first-degree sale of meth

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