Six-month investigation results in arrests during drug sweep in southern MN: 'It's good to get these people off the street'

A six-month investigation resulted in 27 people being arrested in connection to a drug investigation in Olmsted County.

Posted: May. 16, 2018 9:27 AM
Updated: May. 16, 2018 8:23 PM

OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. - More than two dozen people are off the streets after a six-month drug investagation in Olmsted County, and a majority of the arrests are connected to drug methamphetamine.

There's 27 targets in all. Fifteen people were taken into custody on Tuesday in the Rochester and Stewartville areas. Some are already in treatment or being held at other facilities.

As Erik Vargas, of Rochester, looks through the roster of people, he remembers how his life used to be.

"I've been on this roster myself," Vargas said. "Like previously I was charged with second degree drug sales and I'm taking actions for what I've done and I have a lot of grief and I don't know, remorse for what I've done."

He thumbs through the mug shots and even recognizes some of the faces.

"It's kinda sad," Vargas said, "but it's also good to get these people off the street."

Capt. Vince Scheckel is with the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, as well as the commander of the Southeast Minnesota Violent Crimes Enforcement Team (SEMVCET).

He said most of their targets were mid-level dealers, mostly selling meth and even some heroin. Law enforcement tells KIMT there's still four people they're looking for.

"We're looking for you," Scheckel said, "and you will be arrested eventually and charged with a sales of controlled substance."

As for Vargas, he's now in drug treatment and recovering. He said big investigations like this one are a step in the right direction for those whose shoes he used to be in.

"I just got done with court for a review sentence from my second degree drug sale," Vargas said, "and I'm glad I'm not on here anymore and I'm taking the steps to better myself."

Carolyn Bowman, of Rochester, is no stranger to recovery. She said there's going to be more people who will need help recovering, especially with more potential dealers off the streets.

"They're going to go through withdraws," Bowman said. "They're going to grab whatever they can and that's not because people are bad, that's just because of the addiction."

Bowman thinks law enforcement needs to be ready for situations like this one and have resources available for people, including beds at treatment facilities.

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OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. – A six-month investigation resulted in 27 people being arrested in connection to a drug investigation in Olmsted County.
More than 20 of those arrested have been arrested on charges connected to methamphetamine.
The arrests were announced Wednesday morning.
"Most of these targets were mid-level dealers moving ounces of mostly methamphetamine at a time, and grams of heroin," Capt. Vince Scheckel said. 
Of the 27 arrests, 15 were taken into custody in the Rochester/Stewartville area.
Some of the others were already in treatment or being held at other facilities.
More than 30 officers took part in the investigation and 15 of those arrested are expected to be arraigned Wednesday.
To see who was arrested and what charges they are facing, thumb through our gallery.

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