Twenty-one alleged members of a drug trafficking organization have been charged, accused of transportation and selling pounds of heroin and fentanyl in northern Minnesota.
The Duluth Police Department on Wednesday said a large drug trafficking organization has been dismantled following a months-long investigation by the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.
The task force began investigating the organization, which prosecutors say was led by 23-year-old Nicholas Calloway, of Chicago, in June 2021.
Between then and December 2021, the organization, at Calloway's direction, brought 10 pounds of heroin and fentanyl (a street value of $725,000 equal to roughly 18,140 doses) to the region, where midlevel dealers sold the drugs to people in St. Louis and Carlton counties, police said.
Investigators seized one gun, $9,101 in cash and more than 500 grams of a mixture of heroin and fentanyl (street value of $80,000 and is roughly 2,000 doses) in Duluth, police said.
Members of the organization would use violence and threats, including arson and attempted arson, to control a network of dealers in the region, authorities allege.
Police this month arrested 14 people, including Calloway and several people from Minnesota, in connection to the drug trafficking organization. Officials have also issued felony warrants for the arrests of seven others.
Calloway and his alleged supplier Demetrius McCafferty, 34, of Chicago, are in Cook County Jail in Chicago awaiting extradition to Minnesota. Some of the Minnetoans arrested remain in the St. Louis County Jail.
"Dismantling a [drug-trafficking organization] of this scale limits the source of supply of these poisons to the people of St. Louis County and the City of Duluth, and undoubtedly saved lives," Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said in a news release.
Fighting illegal drug use, including heroin and fentanyl, has been a priority in Duluth, especially as overdoses in the community increased during the pandemic. Officials say there were 42 opioid overdose deaths and 346 non-lethal opioid overdoses in St. Louis County in 2021.
“One reason for these staggering numbers is the increasing prevalence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is extremely addictive and lethal in tiny doses," St. Louis County Attorney Kim Maki said in the release. "Fentanyl is frequently laced with other substances, so users often have no knowledge they are ingesting a substance that could result in grave health consequences, including death."
According to the criminal complaints, using undercover investigators, members of the task force infiltrated the drug-trafficking organization. An investigator would contact Calloway, who was often in Chicago, to buy heroin, and Calloway would arrange a meeting place between the investigator (the buyer) and local dealers, often called "runners."
During the investigation, task force members made 20 purchases of heroin/fentanyl from members of the drug-trafficking organization.
In October 2021, investigators obtained a wiretap for Calloway's phone, which they used to monitor his drug sales activity, charges said. Calloway, using his phone, organized several meetups between customers and drug runners, with the 13-page criminal complaint against Calloway detailing some of the organization's actions last year.
Calloway and Jolisa Angeline Henagin, 22, of Cloquet, who is one of Calloway's alleged runners, are each charged with first-degree arson after prosecutors say they set a fire at one of Calloway's runner's apartments in Gary New Duluth on Oct. 21, 2021, because Calloway was upset the runner refused to sell more drugs for him.
The runner's cat died from smoke inhalation after the fire, which also caused extensive damage to the runner's apartment, the complaint said.
The task force thwarted another arson attempt on Nov. 22, 2021, by stationing officers near a runner's home. Calloway told Marck Scharnott, 33, of Duluth, to burn down a runner's duplex on East Fourth Street in Duluth because she failed to sell heroin. Henagin drove Scharnott to the home and they circled the block several times before leaving. Calloway, Scharnott and Henagin are charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit arson in connection to that incident.
Prior to the arson attempt, Calloway told Scharnott to rob the same drug running. Scharnott assaulted her and took the heroin, charges state.
Charges say Henagin was a drug runner for Calloway from October-December 2021, during which she delivered more than 100 grams of heroin and fentanyl throughout St. Louis and Carlton counties. Investigators watched Calloway instruct Henagin to make an average of 10 heroin/fentanyl sales per day during late October, November and early December 2021. She also traveled to Chicago five times in November.
Calloway would take payment for heroin with EBT cards, with charges noting he obtained more than $250 from various EBT cards in exchange for herion.
Nicholas Calloway is charged with seven crimes: two counts of conspiracy to sell drugs, one count of first-degree arson, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree arson, one count of aiding and abetting simple robbery, one count conspiracy to commit importation of controlled substances across state borders and one count of financial transaction card fraud.
The other 13 people who have been arrested and charged are:
- Demetrius McCafferty, who is in Cook County Jail in Chicago awaiting extradition to Minnesota. He is Calloway's alleged supplier.
- Jolisa Henagin, 22, of Cloquet, who was arrested on Jan. 4 in Duluth and is being held on $500,000 bail.
- Mark Scharnott, 33, of Duluth, who was arrested Jan. 4 in Duluth.
- Madison Pallin, 25, of Cloquet
- Jerome Falkner, 24, of Chicago
- Michael Berg, 26, of Duluth
- Amber Wait, 37, of Cloquet, who was arrested on Jan. 12 by the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.
- Jonas Treston Starkey, 27, of Eveleth, who was arrested Jan. 6 by the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.
- Hailie Pralle, 23, of Ashland
- Michelle Jacobson, 33, of Duluth, who was arrested Jan. 4 in Duluth.
- Brock Jensen, 24, of Duluth, who was arrested Jan. 10 in Duluth.
- Brodey Jensen, 24, of Duluth
- Alexis Steltz, 24, of Duluth, who was arrested Jan. 4 in Duluth.
The seven people who are charged but are not yet in custody are:
- Chad Mims, 22, of Chicago
- Melvin Little, 25, of Chicago
- Terry Sallay, 22, of Chicago
- Montavian Oliver, 24, of Pickens, Mississippi
- Zachery Morris Jr., 22, of Minneapolis
- Ryan Vincent, 38, of Duluth
- Leonard Kochevar, 39, of Gilbert
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the seven wanted in connection to drug trafficking in northeastern Minnesota is asked to call the task force at 218-730-5750.