Two charged in large meth operation

Published 10:20am Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two area residents face federal criminal charges for their alleged roles in distributing about 60 pounds of methamphetamine in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Naomi Kay Ellingson and Michael Jason Grove in late June with one count each of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of meth from November 2011 through February 2013.

Court documents state Ellingson was stopped in Steele County on Jan. 16, after law enforcement saw her leave Joice, Iowa, earlier that morning. They seized about $13,000 in cash from her backseat.

Grove was arrested in January after police executed a search warrant at his home in Wells and seized about 2 ounces of meth and $3,835 in cash.

According to local authorities, both Ellingson and Grove have ties to Albert Lea, though it is unclear where they were living when the charges were filed.

Authorities linked Ellingson and Grove to an alleged drug trafficking ring where inmates trafficked illegal drugs over the phone with people outside of the prison.

Ellingson was reportedly identified in phone conversations with at least one inmate, starting in November 2011, where the two allegedly used coded language to talk about trafficking meth. Ellingson first allegedly mentioned Grove during a phone conversation in September 2012, and he was later identified in conversations with the same inmate.

During an interview with a BCA agent in February, Ellingson reportedly admitted to having received and distributed about 60 pounds in the last 12 months. She said she received 40 pounds from one source and 20 pounds from another source. She also noted Grove was one of her primary customers.

Grove also faces a charge of first-degree meth possession in Freeborn County District Court tied to the same incident. Assistant Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said it is likely this charge will be dismissed as the federal charges move forward.

Ellingson is in custody, according to federal court records. Both are scheduled for a preliminary hearing July 15.

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