By Derrick Knutson
Roger and James Blahowski, the brothers accused of stealing machine parts from Knife River Corporation in Harris Feb. 2, can now add drug offenses to the list of charges they’re facing.
Chisago County Sheriff’s deputies apprehended the duo at Knife River after a burglary alarm went off at the business on the aforementioned date.
There, deputies found a truck belonging to Roger, and several large brake drums and cutting edges were discovered in the truck’s bed.
The brothers were booked at the Chisago County Jail in connection with the theft the same day as the incident.
James, 48, of Rush City, who has a less lengthy criminal record than his brother Roger, 54, of Harris, was released after posting $1,500 in bail with conditions, one of those being no drug use.
Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter said James tested positive for methamphetamine, which led to deputies taking him back into custody. Like his brother, Roger also posted $1,500 in bail – the total amount for both is actually $15,000 apiece, but only 10 percent of that amount needed to be paid in order to be released on bail.
Unlike James, Roger refused to submit a urine sample for a drug test, but he allegedly admitted to methamphetamine use.
Those two factors lead to Roger being brought back to jail again, but he posted another $1,500 in bail to be released until a jury trial.
The trial date for the brothers is May 7.
Homegrown meth on the decline
Reiter said she sees methamphetamine use cases occasionally come through her office, but not at the level they once did.
In 2005, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a law limiting the sale of pseudoephedrine – a decongestant that is the primary ingredient in meth – which drastically cut down on the amount of the drug produced locally.
“Anecdotally, there still is meth use out there, but not at the height it was before pseudoephedrine being taken off the shelf,” she said. “People are still manufacturing it, but it’s more difficult. Most of it comes from the West Coast or Mexico.”
With meth use down, other drug use is on the rise.
“The focus has been taken off methamphetamine and now we’re seeing more (illegal) prescription drug use,” she said. “Oxycontin and Oxycodone are the top two.”