The Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force recently took down an organization that was mailing large amounts of drugs cross-country. The organization was distributing the drugs around Duluth, Minnesota. A dozen locals are now facing serious criminal charges, and authorities are pursuing other suspects as well.
The bust came out of an investigation that spanned several months. Authorities began to wiretap and surveil the organization leader, Nicholas Vanholbeck, in October. The officers recorded several transactions and learned the suspects’ patterns over time.
What authorities observed
Members of the drug ring would use fake addressee names as they mailed packages to different places. Vanholbeck would monitor the sales and terminate anyone who did not make enough money for his organization. Vanholbeck’s associate, Joseph Felver, kept most of the drugs at his Lincoln Park residence.
What authorities seized
Once they had their warrants, authorities seized 150 grams of fentanyl, 11,046 grams of methamphetamine and 446 hydrocodone pills. The street value exceeded $1 million. The police allege that Vanholbeck sold about 687 grams of fentanyl/heroin and 4,228 grams of meth.
Where the case could go
In Minnesota, it is a first-degree controlled substance crime to sell over 17 grams or more of methamphetamine, and 10 grams or more of heroin. Aggravating factors can make these charges even worse. The defendants, in this case, could face up to 40 years in prison with heavy fines.
Opioid epidemics are continuing to be a problem in Minnesota, and there are people who look to profit from it. However, as the police catch on to what is happening in different areas, the risks far outweigh the benefits of selling drugs.