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Sting nets glut of drug dealers on West Lake Street in Minneapolis

  • Article by: MATT McKINNEY
  • Star Tribune
  • March 19, 2012 - 7:00 PM

A bar on West Lake Street in Minneapolis was apparently so rife with crack cocaine sales that undercover agents conducting a sting sometimes had to choose among squabbling dealers when trying to make a buy.

The sting netted 13 adults who were charged Monday with selling drugs in and around Champions Sports Bar & Grill at 105 W. Lake St., according to police.

"We got a lot of complaints on it, that's why we started looking at it," said Sgt. Bill Palmer, a police spokesman.

Starting last September, undercover police went into the bar or to a nearby bus stop and were soon approached by people who asked what they wanted. When the officers said they wanted a "20," the slang for a small amount of drugs, they received cocaine or crack cocaine for $20 or $30, court documents said.

In one sale, police were trying to buy drugs from a man when another dealer approached and said, "You don't want to buy from him. Buy from this guy!" The officers then bought drugs from the other dealer as well, court documents show. During the sting, undercover officers bought drugs inside the bar five times. They bought drugs on the sidewalk out front or at a nearby bus stop six times. And they made another seven buys that started in the bar but ended somewhere else.

A check of police records found 214 calls for service -- 12 of them for narcotics -- to the bar since Jan. 1, 2011.

Arrest warrants have been issued for three suspects and charges filed against the others, according to police.

Ten suspects face felony counts of drug dealing for allegedly selling cocaine, crack cocaine or both to undercover officers. These eight are from Minneapolis: Araya Woldeselassie, 38, Tracy L. Nielsen, 42, Gene F. Thomas, 40; Derrick X. Wade, 34; Tyrone M. Strother, 38; Lawanda M. Oliver, 47; Sidney Hornes, 49, and Mitchell P. Douglas, 26.

The other two are Michael J. Duke, 46, Bloomington, and Vera D. Drew, 46, Brooklyn Park.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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