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Man arrested after meth lab discovered in downtown

Kyle Johnson

A 28-year-old man was arrested late Thursday after law enforcement officers discovered a small methamphetamine lab in an apartment above a downtown Brainerd business. 

It is the first meth lab discovered by law enforcement in Crow Wing County in the past six years, authorities said. 

Brainerd Police Deputy Chief Mike Bestul said officers initially received a call at 11:53 p.m. Thursday of a suspicious smell in the apartments at 709 1/2 Laurel Street, above the Iron Rail Bar and Saloon. 

The smell was apparently caused by a small fire in the apartment where the meth lab was located, Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said. People in the apartment put the fire out. 

When officers arrived, they determined the odor in the building was consistent with a meth lab and called in the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division. LADID officers, assisted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, executed a search warrant and arrested Kyle Delane Johnson. 

Johnson is expected to be charged in Crow Wing County District Court with first-degree manufacturing of methamphetamine, Dahl said. Criminal charges also are possible against other suspects, Dahl added. 

Johnson’s criminal history since 2000 includes prison sentences for charges of felony aggravated forgery, weapons violations, fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, first-degree criminal damage to property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. 

Dahl described the methamphetamine lab as a small operation. 

“It sounds like a bunch of people getting together and trying make meth, and those things can be volatile, cause fires and explosions,” Dahl said. “It turned into a good arrest.”

Officers evacuated the other apartments in the building as a precaution, Bestul said, to allow LADID and Brainerd firefighters time to investigate and decontaminate the building. The Salvation Army helped residents find alternative places to stay for the night and Bestul said they were allowed back into the building the next day.

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.