The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 12, 2013

Heroin found again during local drug search

Investigators have concerns about drug moving into area

By Dan Nienaber

---- — MANKATO — Charges filed this week as a result of a September drug bust show investigators continue to find heroin in the Mankato area.

The criminal complaint filed against 20-year-old Christopher Eric Hager accuse the former Minnesota State University student of having a small amount of the drug when his residence at 427 Byron St. was searched Sept. 13. One of his roommates, 20-year-old Scott Robert Taylor, also has been charged with selling marijuana near a school. The house is across the street from the Lincoln Community Center.

Investigators with the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force reported finding more than 2 ounces of marijuana, a scale and about $500 in cash while searching Taylor's second-floor bedroom, that complaint said. A smaller amount of marijuana and a small plastic bag containing a brown powdery substance that tested positive for heroin were allegedly found in what investigators suspect was Hager's room. He is facing a felony charge for possessing a small amount of the drug in a school area.

During an interview in May, Dan Davidson, Task Force commander, said he was concerned about heroin dealers making a move into the Mankato area. They had attempted to sell the drug in the past without much success because local drug users weren't interested. Dealers have been having success finding buyers in the Twin Cities area and other smaller communities around the state, however, Davidson said.

He also said he expected that to change because heroin, which is often shipped directly to Minnesota from Mexico, was becoming more affordable.

"That scares me to death," Davidson said. "We haven't seen the street problems we were seeing in the metro, but it's coming. It's cheap, it's potent and it's very addictive."

About a month after that interview, Task Force investigators arrested two men for allegedly selling the drug from a Page Avenue apartment in North Mankato. Geramy Durell Hopson, 27, and Isaiah Derrick Cooper-Jackson, 28, were arrested June 10 after 17 quarter-gram packets of heroin and about 7 grams of cocaine were found in the apartment along with about $1,600 in counterfeit $100 and $20 bills.

Investigators also reported finding a drug ledger showing a list of what they suspected were buyers and the amount each buyer owed.

On Nov. 15 Hopson pleaded guilty to a felony charge of second-degree drug possession as a result of that arrest. He also pleaded guilty Nov. 19 to a second-degree drug sales charge resulting from a June 2012 arrest in Le Sueur County. He was sentenced to 70 months in prison. With credit for time served in jail and good time in prison, Hopson is scheduled to be released in May 2017.

Cooper-Jackson has been on Nicollet County's Most Wanted list since Oct. 18, which is when he was scheduled to appear in court for a violation of his conditional release from jail after he was arrested June 10. On June 17 he posted a $25,000 bond that allowed him to leave jail if he didn't leave Minnesota without permission, remained law abiding and submitted to random drug and alcohol testing. His case has been on hold since a warrant was issued for his arrest in October.

Davidson said in May that one concern he has with heroin is its potency and the inconsistency of its strength when it is sold. It is not uncommon for powder drugs such as cocaine and heroin to be mixed with other powder substances, such as baking soda.

When cocaine users buy batches of cocaine that are more pure, they can usually handle the more intense reaction to the drug, Davidson said. That isn't the case with heroin. It can be deadly for someone who is used to diluted heroin to unexpectedly use a more pure form of the drug, he said.