Employees at auto shop given meth as bonus, drug task force says

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A couple running a Mankato auto body repair shop doled out bonuses to employees in the form of meth, authorities says.

An employee of Clear Choice Auto Body Repair told agents Wednesday that the shop's 40-year-old owner, as well as the owner's girlfriend, had been paying employees with methamphetamine, the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force said in a news release.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the employee said workers were given a half gram of meth as a bonus, distributed by the owner's girlfriend as the owner looked on.

The task force executed a search warrant shortly after midnight Thursday morning, and found used syringes that tested positive for methamphetamine, as well as a digital scale containing methamphetamine residue, according to the release.

The owner was arrested before the search warrant was executed on a misdemeanor driving violation. The owner's girlfriend has not been arrested or charged as of Thursday at 10 a.m., Commander Jeff Wersal told BringMeTheNews.

The task force says the investigation has been "lengthy" to this point and is still ongoing. More charges are likely.

The Mankato Department of Public Safety and The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the search.

Methamphetamine in Minnesota

Figures from the Minnesota Department of Human Services show the admissions to treatment for methamphetamine use disorders has nearly doubled in Minnesota since 2011 – jumping from 8.4 percent five years ago to 16.4 percent in 2014.

Focusing just on the Twin Cities, methamphetamine-related deaths in the Hennepin and Ramsey counties fell to 17 total in 2014 (the latest year of data available).

The total amount of meth seized by law enforcement though went up significantly in Ramsey County specifically – from 16 pounds in 2013, to 128 pounds in 2014.

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