A man charged this week in Hennepin County with third-degree murder after he allegedly sold a lethal dose of heroin to a Medina man had previous drug-related offenses, authorities said Tuesday.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said at a Tuesday news conference that Jaime Edward McClellan, 31, is one of Minnesota’s biggest heroin dealers and that he distributed “significant quantities” of the drug.

McClellan, of Brooklyn Park, is being held in the Anoka County jail in lieu of $1 million bond after he was charged Friday with first-degree intent to sell a controlled substance and second-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Said Stanek: “In terms of reducing the drug supply, today is a win-win for law enforcement. … There are consequences for selling heroin and there are consequences for using heroin, and sometimes the consequences are tragic.”

This year, there have been 44 heroin overdose deaths in Hennepin County. Last year at this time, there had been 50 overdose deaths in the county.

Maj. Pete Dietzman, who heads the Sheriff’s Office investigations unit, said McClellan is a “significant” player who deals in the “ounce to pound category.”

Stanek said the charges against McClellan are the culmination of a “complex situation” over several months involving multiple cities and at least two counties. “I think it will make it more difficult for folks [to get heroin],” he said.

According to the complaint filed Monday in Hennepin County, officers on Oct. 24 found a man who had overdosed on heroin in his Medina home. After getting a search warrant, they seized his two computers and a cellphone, from which they learned that McClellan was his supplier.

Stanek said there was evidence that someone involved in the deal knew the heroin was particularly potent.

Officers also discovered that McClellan was a suspect in an ongoing Anoka County death investigation in which another person had died from a heroin overdose, according to the Hennepin County complaint.

McClellan has prior second- and third-degree controlled substance convictions in Ramsey County.

“Want to protect people from the dangers of heroin? Then don’t sell it,” the sheriff said.

After a series of undercover purchases in multiple cities between Nov. 12 and Dec. 16, officers from the Anoka-Hennepin drug task force confiscated 20 grams of heroin, according to the Anoka County complaint filed Friday.


Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora