Officials have arrested someone they consider a "major heroin distributor" in the Twin Cities metro.
Jaime Edward McClellan, 31, was charged Monday in Hennepin County with third-degree murder in connection with a fatal heroin overdose, an email news release says. He was also charged Friday with two counts of possessing a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint.
McClellan, who is described by officials as a "major heroin distributor," was arrested following a drug task force investigation, the release says.
The criminal complaint out of Anoka County details a series of controlled buys between Nov. 12 and Dec. 16 in which a confidential informant bought heroin from McClellan. He was arrested at a gym in Mounds View on Dec. 16. Sitting next to him was a pair of boots that contained 15 grams of heroin – the same type sold during the controlled buys, the complaint notes.
During the investigation, officials also uncovered $349,130 in cash in a storage locker listed under McClellan's name.
Investigators have also linked McClellan to the death of 24-year-old Alex Milun, who was found dead in his Medina home back in October, a criminal complaint out of Hennepin County says. His cause of death was a heroin overdose, the medical examiner ruled.
After obtaining a search warrant, investigators discovered McClellan was Milun's supplier.
McClellan is also a suspect in an ongoing death investigation in Anoka County. That person also died of a heroin overdose, the complaint says.
According to Anoka County Jail records, McClellan is being held on $1 million bail for charges in Anoka County and $500,000 bail for charges in Hennepin County.
Drug overdose deaths reach record high
The number of heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses has been on the rise in Minnesota and across the country as of late – it’s gotten bad enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the rise in opioid deaths as an epidemic.
In a new report released Friday, the CDC says drug overdose deaths reached record highs in 2014. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent – including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids.
The Midwest had the largest increase in overdose deaths from 2013 to 2014 of any region in the U.S., increasing 9.6 percent, the report shows. But there wasn't much of a change in Minnesota, which had 523 drug overdose deaths in 2013 and 517 in 2014, the report shows.
For more on the CDC's report – and the pushback from the drug industry to rein in prescription medications – read MinnPost's story published Monday.