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Police: Minnesota traffic stop reveals couple, 7 kids, gun, pot smoke in stolen van

Richard Chin

St. Paul Pioneer Press

RAMSEY, Minn. — A traffic stop just after midnight in the Twin Cities suburbs revealed a bizarre situation: a woman who said she was in labor, in a stolen van smelling of marijuana and containing a handgun and five young children with packing tape over their mouths, according to police and prosecutors.

A news release from police in the city of Ramsey and a criminal complaint filed in Anoka County District Court said that the incident started at 12:19 a.m. Tuesday when a Ramsey police officer saw a van swerving and making illegal turns.

The officer stopped the vehicle in Ramsey, and while speaking with the woman who was driving, the officer could smell a strong odor of burned marijuana coming from the vehicle, the complaint said.

There were also seven children in the van, five age 5 or younger, the complaint said. A 1-year-old was in a booster seat but was not properly buckled in, the complaint said.

The children initially seemed unresponsive but were roused by officers, according to the news release. The five youngest children were all in the rear seat of the van with clear packing tape over their mouths, the complaint said. The complaint said one of the older children told police they had tape over their mouths because they were playing with it.

When police searched the van, they founded a loaded handgun magazine on the floor directly behind the driver’s seat, the complaint said. An unloaded Taurus .40-caliber handgun was found under the second-row seat, near the feet of several of the children, the complaint said.

A check on the van showed it was reported stolen out of Missouri, the complaint said. Police arrested the man in the passenger seat, Deszion Marquese Wraggs, 26, of Ramsey, the complaint said.

Wraggs is the father of the children in the van, according to the complaint.

The driver of the van, the mother of the children in the vehicle, told police she was going into labor, according to Ramsey Police Chief Jeff Katers. Paramedics transported her to a hospital.

Wraggs told police that the handgun was his and that he had placed it under the seat, but he said that he did not have a permit to carry a firearm and did not have a case for it, the complaint said.

Wraggs also admitted he had rented the van for a “few days” about a month ago, and that he believed he did not have any money left on the credit card that he used to rent the vehicle, the complaint said.

Wraggs was charged Thursday in Anoka County District Court with motor vehicle theft and neglect of a child.

Katers said Thursday that the woman did not give birth and was not in custody.

She might face charges, Katers said.

Another adult in the van was not charged with any crimes, he said.

Katers said the children were not in distress and under no immediate threat and were released to family members. But the case has been referred to Anoka County Child Protection to see if the family is in need of parenting skills or if further placement is needed, Katers said.

“It’s kind of a weird, bizarre case,” Katers said.

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