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Major Heroin Ring Dismantled After 15-Month Investigation

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Some of the biggest suppliers of heroin in the metro are behind bars after the Minneapolis Police and the DEA dismantled a major heroin ring Thursday.

Police believe they're connected to at least 10 heroin deaths in Minneapolis this year.

Police seized $10,000 in cash, two guns -- and heroin with a street value totaling $16,000 Police credit tips from the community and more than a year of undercover work.

Investigators served warrants at six homes in north Minneapolis, Richfield, Apple Valley and Burnsville.

"I think it's a significant impact on this group, I don't think they'll be dealing anytime soon," said Inspector Matt Clark.

Police say undercover officers bought heroin from the suspects on 20 occasions during their 15-month investigation.

The suspects include seven men and one woman -- many of which are family members. Kenneth Bettis, 31; Arnez Hawthorne, 28; Lee Howell, 30; David Bettis, 34; John Edmonds, 29; Marquis Bettis, 27; CJ Bettis, 29 and Jasmine Jackson, 22, were arrested.

Police say they were selling highly potent heroin, with 70 percent to 90 percent coming from a Mexican drug trafficking ring based out of Chicago.

This year in Minneapolis, there have been 79 overdoses, 51 of them from heroin.

"We have this picture of heroin users as being haggard, homeless people crouched in alleys or shooting galleries," said Dr. Gavin Bart, director of addiction medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center. "What we're seeing is this is spanning the socio-demographics of the state. We're seeing incredibly wealthy, suburban high school all-stars doing this and we're seeing the impoverished doing it. It's an equal opportunity affliction."

The growing number of young people overdosing on the drug is part of what prompted this investigation.

Inspector Clark expects the suspected dealers will be behind bars for a long time.

"They knew if they were able to take this group down and put an end to the drug dealing with the high-potency drug dealing that would lead to a decrease in overdoses and ultimately save lives," he said.

Police received help from people who overdosed on heroin in tracking the suspected drug dealers. And they say all the tips from the community were also big help.

Police want to remind people to give them a call if they see anything suspicious happening in their neighborhood.

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