2 men face charges after 84 grams of heroin seized from Superior home

A Chicago man allegedly sold a substantial amount of heroin from a Superior residence, providing samples of the drug as compensation to the homeowner and several "runners" who helped distribute the product.

Robbin Damonta Alexander (left) and Benjamin Alan Tatzel

A Chicago man allegedly sold a substantial amount of heroin from a Superior residence, providing samples of the drug as compensation to the homeowner and several "runners" who helped distribute the product.

Robbin Damonta Alexander, 30, was charged Friday in Douglas County Circuit Court with a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver more than 50 grams of heroin.

Police said he made multiple trips from Chicago to Superior, where he stayed in a trailer home at 306 Homecroft Court owned by 30-year-old Benjamin Alan Tatzel.

A search warrant conducted at the residence last week turned up approximately 84 grams of heroin - pre-packaged for sale in 151 individual bags - with a street value of $15,000, according to the charges.

Tatzel, who allegedly admitted to allowing Alexander to stay at the residence in exchange for heroin, was charged with three felonies: party to the crime of delivering more than 50 grams of heroin, possession of heroin and maintaining a drug trafficking place.


Douglas County Sheriff's Office Sgt. James Madden, who serves as director of the Northwest Area Crime Unit task force, said in the criminal complaint that the arrangement is becoming more common in the Twin Ports.

"Investigators know that drug dealers come to the Twin Ports from Chicago to sell heroin because the cost of heroin ... is nearly four times as expensive in Duluth/Superior as it is in Chicago," Madden said. "Investigators have also found that the Chicago drug dealers will stay with local drug users and have the local users make deliveries on the dealer's behalf away from the location where the dealer is staying."

According to the charges:

On Dec. 7, investigators from the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, Superior Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at the residence after conducting surveillance of suspected drug deals in the area.

Inside, they found Alexander and placed him under arrest. Investigators said they seized two large bags in the residence containing prepackaged quantities of heroin, along with $2,600 in cash from Alexander's pockets.

Police spoke with a 22-year-old man who was observed conducting a suspected drug sale in the parking lot at the nearby Wal-Mart store. The man admitted that he was selling heroin for a Chicago man he knew only as "T," who had been operating from the Homecroft Court address.

The man told investigators that the homeowner, Tatzel, had picked up "T" at the bus station in Duluth and allowed him to sell drugs from the residence.

Investigators spoke with a second runner, who confirmed the nature of the arrangement. He stated that Alexander had made the same trip about a week earlier, bringing a large quantity of heroin to sell before returning to Chicago.


The man told police that Alexander would arrange sales over the phone, and then ask one of several runners to complete the deals - usually in parking lots of nearby businesses. He said they would sell the drug at a price of $80 per half-gram, turning the money over to Alexander and receiving small quantities of heroin for personal use in return.

Tatzel was brought in for an interview at Superior Police Department headquarters.

Police said he stated that he regularly allowed people to stay at his residence, hesitantly admitting that he was allowing Alexander to stay there and conduct drug sales. Tatzel said he worked full-time and described himself as a "light user of heroin."

Tatzel allegedly admitted that Alexander had also been there a week prior to sell heroin. In exchange, he said he received approximately three-tenths of a gram of the drug.

Both suspects remained in the Douglas County Jail on Tuesday afternoon, with bail set at $25,000 for Alexander and $15,000 for Tatzel. They are due back in court Wednesday.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
What To Read Next
Get Local