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Ontario man arrested in Minnesota drug bust

Law enforcement agents nabbed a 60-year-old Thunder Bay man in a Grand Portage drug bust Friday afternoon.

John Edward Heinonen was arrested by agents from the Cook County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Border Patrol at about noon, after he took delivery at the Grand Portage post office of a package containing hundreds of non-prescribed narcotic pills.

Postal inspectors earlier had intercepted the package in California, addressed to Heinonen in Minnesota. Authorities found it to contain 390 codeine and 440 diazepam pills shipped from Fiji.

In turn, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials contacted the Cook County Sheriff's Office. Agents were waiting when Heinonen arrived at the post office to receive the package and arrested him as he returned to his pickup truck.

Inside the truck, they found four more packages, all addressed to Heinonen. Those packages were opened after a search warrant was obtained. They were reported to contain 400 carisprodol, 740 tramadol hydrochloride, 380 zopiclone and 690 tramadol HCL pills. In total, Heinonen was found to be in possession of 3,040 narcotic pills with a combined weight of about 1,100 grams.

During questioning, Heinonen claimed that all the drugs were for personal use, but he acknowledged he had no prescriptions for them. He explained that he found he could purchase the drugs more economically from abroad

Heinonen has been charged with first-degree drug possession but was released after posting the $100,000 bail.

The arrest was made with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol and the Cook County Drug Task Force, which includes the Sheriff's Office, U.S. Border Patrol, Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota conservation officers, in cooperation with U.S. Homeland Security investigations. The Sheriff's Office also is working with law enforcement in Canada on the case.

"I commend the efforts of our CCSO investigator and the Cook County Drug Task Force. This is a significant interception; we are pleased to take these pills off the streets," Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen said in a statement.