Faribault Daily News:
In the last year the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force has opened more than 300 cases, charged 222 people with felony-level drug crimes, taken out nearly 130 search warrants and made 276 arrests.
They’ve been responsible for the state’s largest-ever meth bust, pulling in nearly 200 pounds of the drug along with 10 pounds of heroin, and caught a Burnsville woman with a little more than 10 pounds of heroin worth about $700,000 on the street.
All that has added up to it being named Minnesota’s 2019 Task Force of the Year. The award was presented May 23 at the annual Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators conference in Nisswa.
The task force, formed in 2017 by Faribault and Northfield Police departments and the Le Sueur and Rice County Sheriff’s offices, made their biggest and most noteworthy arrests outside its normal jurisdiction. Those arrests, task force leaders have said, began with tips that came in from their work locally, and have reduced the quantity of drugs coming into both counties.
From June to October 2018, agents conducted an operation that led to 63 arrests and confiscation of approximately 200 pounds of meth, over 10 pounds of heroin, more than 1½ pounds of cocaine, two sawed-off shotguns and one suspected submachine gun. The value of the drugs is estimated at over $10 million.
In September 2018, the task force searched a Minneapolis home, finding four men with meth worth an estimated $7.75 million. So far, one has pleaded guilty to federal drug charges. The following month agents arrested Angelica Pino-Peralta after a search that turned up 10 pounds of heroin in an apartment she shared with her four children. Pino-Peralta was sentenced May 17 to 24 months in federal prison.
In March, the task force partnered with the River Valley Task Force to arrest two people in reportedly possession of 70 pounds of methamphetamine. A second collaboration with the Mankato area task force led to the May arrest of a man alleged to have 3 pounds of meth in his St. Peter home.
The team, including Agent Josh Malecha, Agent Scott O’Brien, Agent Jeff Burbank, Agent Jesse Cordova, Records Specialist/Secretary Carole Friesz, and task force commanders Capt. David Dillon and Sgt. Paul LaRoche, were recognized and presented with a plaque.
Le Sueur County Sheriff Brett Mason on Friday expressed pride in the task force’s work and its performance
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” he said of the award. “It solidifies the work that they’re doing.”