Eleven men accused of being part of a heroin ring in the Twin Cities have been indicted in federal court, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis.
The indictment unsealed this week states that from 2000 through Oct. 15, 2012, the defendants conspired to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin. Several of the men were also charged with distribution of heroin or with possession with intent to distribute the drug.
If convicted, the men face a potential maximum penalty of 10 years to life in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. Their trial is expected to begin early next year.
The Twin Cities men named in the indictment are Marcus Lashaun Banks, 31, David Lamont Loggins, 40, Marshall Francois Scurlock, 33, Andre Maurice Smith, 37, all of Minneapolis; Alvin Benex Collins, 56, Lamont Columbus Harper, 35, both of St. Paul; Damien Dwayne Eastling, 23, of Oakdale; Demon Robert Franklin, 36, of White Bear Lake; Steve Latimore, 38, of New Brighton; Deon Dimitri McGhee, 32, of Columbia Heights; and William Deante Taylor, 37, of Plymouth.
The men distributed or possessed close to 138 grams of heroin, according to the statement.
Federal authorities did not provide details about the indictment. Jeanne Cooney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, declined to confirm or deny the investigation is continuing.
"Generally drug cases are lengthy investigations," she said. "While I can't speak to this specific case ... oftentimes in drug cases the indictment won't be detailed, nor will other public information like [search warrant] affidavits be available because the investigation continues."
The indictment is the latest example of heroin's growing prevalence in Minnesota, authorities say.
Last month, a Maple Grove mother was charged after her 12-year-old daughter was hospitalized for drug withdrawal. The mother told police she and her daughter regularly used the drug together.
Alarmed at the rising use of prescription opiates and heroin available in Minnesota, state commissioners and other public officials in September called for a statewide drug-abuse strategy that centers on early education and intervention.
Rose French • 612-673-4352