More details released in drug sting [UPDATED]Published 11:19am Thursday, May 5, 2011 Updated 10:28am Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The Operation: Spring Cleanup drug bust project was a wide-ranging operation that dealt with several different kinds of drugs and revealed networks of Fergus Falls drug dealers that allegedly worked together to provide interested buyers with contraband, according to court documents on 16 dealers picked up in arrests on Monday and Tuesday (an additional juvenile was also arrested).
To gather evidence, police officers and sheriff’s deputies set up a number of “controlled buys” between confidential informants and the dealers, most of whom live in or around the Fergus Falls city limits.
The operation was not cheap. Over $6,000 was spent on drug deals between the end of February and mid-April, netting officers 53 grams of cocaine, 17 grams of meth, 14 ecstasy tablets, 82 prescription pills and over 182 grams of marijuana. Drugs were not seized during arrests and search warrants. As a reference point, a gram is about the size of an individual sugar packet. Police said typical recreational drug users often use half a gram of drugs like meth, cocaine or marijuana in a day.
The informants often recorded their conversations with dealers to use as evidence. The dealers made transactions in a variety of residences and met with informants in a variety of locations around town, including the Walmart and YMCA parking lots and several gas stations.
Over 30 felony drug sale charges have been filed so far. The defendants range in age from 17 to 58.
The two men with the most charges are William Ronald Stoops, 37, and George Earl Higgins III, 58, both of Fergus Falls. Stoops has been charged with two counts of first degree drug sales, one count of second degree sale and three counts of fifth degree sales. He is alleged to have sold or been involved in the sale of 22.4 grams of marijuana and 12.5 grams of cocaine in controlled buys between Feb. 27 and April 17. At one point, documents state, police followed Stoops and others to an apartment in Fargo, where he obtained more cocaine to sell in Fergus Falls. During a conversation with an informant, Stoops allegedly said that he buys marijuana in Moorhead and brings it to Fergus Falls to sell at a higher price.
Higgins has been charged with three counts of fifth degree drug sales, one count of second degree sale and one count of fourth degree sale. He is alleged to have sold or been involved in the sale of various amounts of meth, marijuana and morphine pills in March and April. Higgins allegedly identified himself as “Big Red” during drug deals, and at one point hooked up an informant with another dealer, Anthony Williams, who went by the street name “Pretty Tony.”
Another man, Robert Higgins, 38, has been charged with two counts of fifth degree drug sales. During one deal, he allegedly sold an informant some marijuana in front of his own 3-year-old daughter. It is not known by police if Robert Higgins is related to George.
There were several connections between many of the dealers. Higgins and Stoops often allegedly worked with other dealers, acting as facilitators between the informants and others with drugs. Two others, Tereasa and Desmond Patterson, 24 and 28, respectively, allegedly worked together as a husband and wife team to sell cocaine, with Charles Helps sometimes stepping in to assist.
Other alleged dealers charged with crimes include Calvin Leland Bengston, 49; Jabari Khyle Bishop, 19; Michael Duane Iverson, 20; Anthony Williams, 41; Matthew John Smith-Delong, 25; Amanda Clair Guerra, 26; William Bernard Berry Jr., 18; Scott Connary Bartel, 19; Benjamin James Delong, 19; Ivory Delano Amerson, 32; and Daniel Martinez, 34; and a 17-year-old juvenile. All of the defendants are from Fergus Falls except for Martinez, who is from Pelican Rapids, and Amerson, who has a Rochester address. Initial police statements misreported the number of dealers arrested as 19.Tags: court, drugs, Operation: Spring Cleanup