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Drugs, cash and ammunition seized in largest fentanyl bust in Clay County

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 12:08 PM CDT
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CLAY COUNTY, M.N. (Valley News Live) - Drugs, cash and ammunition were all seized in what authorities are calling the largest fentanyl bust in Clay County.

Investigators received information about people frequently traveling to Minneapolis to pick up drugs and then distribute them here in the valley. On Wednesday, April 27, several agencies worked together to conduct two traffic stops on Interstate-94 in Clay County; in both cases the vehicles took off.

Officers were eventually able to stop the suspects and seized 1,091 suspected fentanyl pills and approximately 20 grams of meth. The estimated street value of the drugs is $37,000. Ammunition was located and one of the vehicles was found to be stolen.

“Our biggest fear with this is the level of lethality that comes with fentanyl. Not every single pill is coming with the same dose in it and that’s why people are tending to make the errors and cause the overdoses because one batch might be different than the next,” Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe said.

Three people, all with no permanent address, were arrested and are facing several felony drug charges. They were booked into the Clay County Correctional Facility with long-form complaints requested.

  • Larry McClendon, 52
  • Raphael Murphy, 36
  • Cameron Desjarlais, 32

The investigation is the third significant seizure that disrupted the distribution of drugs into our community within the last month. In March, two people were arrested after investigators intercepted a shipment of powdered fentanyl transported on I-94 in Clay County with a street value of $15,000.

On April 12, two others were arrested on I-94 in Clay County with a shipment of fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, and marijuana, with a street value of $20,000. Investigators say they were also headed to our community for distribution.

“It’s concerning because people are trying to raise families in our communities and we’re trying to keep this out of here as best we can,” Monroe said.

Monroe says while his department has seen an influx of overdoses recently, the amount of reported deaths has leveled off as Narcan, designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses, has become more available throughout the community. He says in 2021 MPD responded to 63 overdoses and eight drug-related deaths, and so far this year, the department has seen 12 overdoses and two deaths.

“They may think they’re taking one kind of drug and it turns out it’s laced with fentanyl and they didn’t know that. That’s just part of those dangers of getting illicit narcotics from labs that come from other countries like China or Mexico,” he said.

Monroe says the thing to keep in mind with a drug bust this size is that’s only what the department is catching. Both he and Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting say detectives have no idea just how much of the deadly drug is getting into the community undetected, but say the best way they can get drug traffickers off the streets is from tips and information from the public.

“We do not want this in our county. This is a dangerous drug, this is a drug that’s taking the lives of people,” Sheriff Empting said.

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