DULUTH - After a monthslong, multistate investigation that included undercover drug deals, wire taps and arson, 21 alleged members of a drug-trafficking ring have been charged in St. Louis County District Court with transporting and distributing drugs in northern Minnesota.
The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force interrupted the organization led by Nicholas Calloway, 23, of Chicago, who was allegedly bringing large amounts of fentanyl and heroin from Illinois to midlevel dealers and consumers in Carlton and St. Louis counties, according to a news release from the Duluth Police Department.
Calloway and Demetrius McCafferty, his alleged source, are in Cook County jail in Chicago waiting extradition to Minnesota. In total, 14 people have been arrested — most of them with regional ties — and warrants have been issued for seven more.
The task force discovered that between June and December of 2021, traffickers transported and sold more than 10 pounds of heroin and fentanyl — estimated at 18,140 doses with a street value of $725,600, according to the Police Department. Police seized $9,101 in cash, more than 500 grams of heroin and fentanyl mixture and one firearm.
Police say Calloway was a point of contact for people looking to buy heroin or fentanyl. Officers tracked him, bought drugs from him while undercover, and in October obtained a warrant for a wiretap for his phone — which he was using to organize meetups between customers and his team's runners, court records say.
In addition to drug trafficking, some members of the ring are also charged with robbery, attempted arson, arson and fraudulent use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. In some cases, Calloway took EBT cards as payment for drugs, according to court documents.
Calloway and Mark Scharnott, 33, of Duluth are also charged with robbing another member of their organization and, along with 22 year-old Jolisa Henagin of Cloquet, Minn., with conspiracy to commit arson in the first degree — a plan to burn down a duplex on E. Fourth Street that was thwarted by task force investigators who were monitoring the scene.
Calloway and Henagin are also charged with arson in the first degree, following an October fire at an apartment building in the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood of Duluth. The resident of the apartment had worked for Calloway, but didn't want to anymore, according to court records. He told officers at the scene of the fire that he had been beaten with a pistol before Calloway used a blow torch to burn his mattress and couch, according to court documents. The apartment was extensively damaged and the man's cat died from smoke inhalation.
Calloway and Henagin were seen leaving the building on surveillance video, according to the police.
There were 42 opioid overdose deaths and 346 nonlethal opioid overdoses in the county in 2021, according to St. Louis County Attorney Kimberly Maki.
The Duluth Police Department reported that significant disruptions in opioid sources can push a person facing addiction to get help. The Substance Use Response Team can be reached at 218-730-4009.