One of two men wanted since early November for felony drug, gang and racketeering charges was arrested in Minneapolis last week and brought to Mankato Monday.
Cedric Lamont Berry, 32, appeared in Blue Earth County District Court Tuesday for a bail hearing. He is accused of being one of the leaders of a gang that, according to prosecutors, was selling crack cocaine in Mankato’s Washington Park neighborhood.
Berry and four other men were charged Nov. 5 as a result of an investigation by the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force. Prosecutors say the investigation included several small cocaine deals that were part of a larger gang conspiracy.
Using a confidential informant, task force agents were able to make the controlled buys of cocaine in an alley within a few blocks of Washington Park. All of the buys, which were usually between 1 and 2 grams of crack, originated from a house in the 300 block of Mulberry Street between Sept. 13 and Nov. 1, the criminal complaint said. Berry’s mother, Karen Smith, was living at the home. It was searched Nov. 3, but no drugs were found.
Three of the suspects were arrested the day of the search. They were 28-year-old Richard Ramon Gordon, 24-year-old Armond Rashad Smith and 19-year-old Devon Marcus Crumble. Warrants were issued for the arrest of Berry and a fifth suspect, Steven Curtis Johnson, 29. Johnson remains on Mankato’s Most Wanted website.
All of the men are known or suspected members of the “Family Mob,” a Twin Cities-based gang that earned a violent reputation when it was formed in Minneapolis several years ago. Berry is one of the gang’s co-founders, according to court records.
The gang has had ties to Mankato, including earlier drug arrests for Berry, Johnson and Gordon. It’s members caught the attention of law enforcement in May when someone called police to report a fight involving guns in the 200 block of Hanover Street. Berry was living there with two of the other suspects at the time, according to the criminal complaint. They later moved to the Mulberry Street residence.
Berry was arrested Thursday by Minneapolis police officers as a result of the Blue Earth County warrant, according to Hennepin County Jail records. He was kept in jail over the Christmas holiday weekend and turned over to Blue Earth County authorities Monday afternoon.
Berry was granted a public defender and his bail was set at $200,000 with conditions or $750,000 without conditions. Berry will be required to submit to frequent drug tests at the Blue Earth County Jail if he is released.
If convicted, Berry is facing a minimum of 48 months in prison due to his criminal record. Michael Hanson, assistant Blue Earth County attorney, argued for a higher bail saying Berry is a flight risk and has a history of giving false names or fleeing police to avoid arrest.
“We have some concerns about the safety of the community and the defendant appearing at future hearings,” Hanson said. “He’s willing to lie, willing to run, willing to do anything necessary to get away from police.”
Rich Hillesheim, who was representing Berry at the bail hearing, said Berry is attending St. Paul Technical College, has two children living in the Twin Cities and has no plans to skip bail if he’s released.
District Court Judge Norbert Smith told Berry he was expecting him to test positive for drugs because Berry admitted to using when he was arrested. Smith also said Berry should plan to stay in Mankato if he’s able to post bail.
“If you are released, you’ll have to move in with mama because you will be expected to show up at the Blue Earth County Jail for testing,” Smith said.