An Anoka man, accused of being in possession of methamphetamine with a street value between $500,000 and $1 million, $10,000 in currency and three firearms, was found not guilty by Anoka County District Court jury Jan. 30 of two felony charges.
Cesar Ruben Fletes-Ortiz, 21, was arraigned in court Aug. 23, 2013 on two felony first-degree controlled substance crime charges, the first count for first for possession of methamphetamine and the second for possession with intent to sell methamphetamine.
The trial began Jan. 22 and the jury deliberated for 90 minutes.
A search warrant was executed by the Anoka Hennepin Drug Task Force Aug. 22, 2013 at a residence on Seventh Avenue, Anoka, which Fletes-Ortiz, who was home at the time, shared with a roommate, who was not home.
“They arrested the wrong man,” said defense attorney C. Clayton Tyler. “The roommate was a drug dealer.”
According to Tyler, his client had no criminal record, not for drugs, not for anything.
The roommate was arrested in Anoka the morning of Aug. 22 for drug dealing and that was the reason for the search warrant, Tyler said.
According to Amanda Vickstrom of the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, no charges were filed against the roommate.
In the search of the residence, drug task force officers allegedly found a $5 bill with a white substance that tested positive for methamphetamine in a bedroom known to be Fletes-Ortiz’s.
In the basement, the drug task force located a gun safe, inside which was “an extremely large amount of methamphetamine,” according to the complaint.
There were two black garbage bags, each of which allegedly had four containers of a white substance which field tested for methamphetamine.
The total amount of methamphetamine seized from the safe was 8,308 grams or 18.54 pounds, which is equal to some 100,000 doses and has a street value between $500,000 and $1 million.
The complaint alleges that the amount was clearly intended for sale and distribution.
Inside the residence, officers also allegedly located a ledger book with monetary drug notes, a digital scale and $10,000 in U.S. currency.
In addition, the drug task force allegedly seized from the safe three firearms in close proximity to the methamphetamine – a mini-14 style rifle, a Glock 40-caliber handgun loaded with 13 bullets and a Mossberg shotgun.
According to Tyler, Fletes-Ortis had no access to or control over the drugs; he had lived at the house with the roommate for three to four months prior to the Aug. 22 raid.
Fletes-Ortis did not testify at the trial, but Tyler said he called expert and lay witnesses to testify on his client’s behalf.
“The jury deliberated efficiently and felt the state had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
According to Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, this was a difficult case and his office “pursued it vigorously.”
“We have an obligation to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and apparently the jury felt we didn’t meet that burden,” Palumbo said.
“While we wanted a different outcome in the trial, 18 pounds of methamphetamine were removed from the streets of Anoka County.”
Peter Bodley is at email@example.com