A dozen people were indicted last week on federal charges for their alleged roles in heroin trafficking in the Twin Ports.
U.S. Attorney Gregory Brooker said during a March 8 news conference that the network was responsible for bringing a near-constant supply of highly potent heroin into the city of Duluth and surrounding communities.
An additional 17 people are facing state charges in connection with the distribution conspiracy, including three in Douglas County Circuit Court.
Keera Rae Hansen, 31, and Alexander David Hawkinson, 21, of Duluth, and Alexus Latrice Simmons, 22, of Superior each face a charge of conspiracy to commit distribution of schedule I or II narcotics.
According to the criminal complaints, the three were identified as street dealers and customers of Bernard Brandon Mims, 38, of Superior. Mims is facing federal charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, 28 counts of distribution of heroin and four counts possession with intent to distribute heroin. The charges are the result of a year-long investigation into Twin Ports heroin trafficking by federal agencies and the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.
Investigators intercepted a Feb. 12 text conversation between Mims' phone and one belonging to Hansen in which Hansen instructed Mims to leave 4 grams of heroin for her in a vehicle. An additional phone call between the two included the discussion of drug dealing activity; texts the next day referenced having Mims pick up cash from the same vehicle.
Following a search of two phones that allegedly belonged to Hawkinson, investigators found hundreds of drug text messages of Hawkinson allegedly buying, selling and receiving drugs from various customers throughout Duluth and Superior. They included a Sept. 9 message about a dude wanting another "40," a $40 bag of heroin, and a request from Hawkinson to have Mims drop off something small to his girlfriend Sept. 18. Investigators located text messages between Hawkinson and his girlfriend that day letting her know "Water," an alias for Mims, would drop her off a "lil bag" in exchange for a laptop and fire stick.
Investigators also intercepted several phone calls and text messages between Mims and Simmons. According to the complaint, they learned that Mims was using Simmons to deliver heroin to customers on his behalf and that he used her residence on the 700 block of Cumming Avenue as a stash house. Calls referenced in the complaint include one Feb. 9 in which Simmons informed Mims someone stole his stash of heroin from her residence.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.
Simmons made an initial appearance in court last week and was released on a $50,000 signature bond. Her next court appearance was set for March 21. Hansen was released on a $50,000 bond following her initial appearance Monday. An arrest warrant was issued last week for Hawkinson.