Crime activity in the Pine River and Backus areas recently have included more and more reports of drug related arrests with some suspects arrested on suspicion of selling methamphetamine as well as other charges.

In a span of two weeks, nine arrests were made in rural Pine River, Walker and Backus in what was described in one news release as a multi-faceted ongoing investigation.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said community tips have helped fuel the sudden surge in arrests.

"It's always been a serious problem in our county," Burch said. "It seems like in the last few months that more people in the community are fed up with it and have given us some really good information that allows us to really go after it."

A lot of tips come from anonymous state tip lines, such as Crime Stoppers (800-222-8477). While it is possible that arrests might slow down after a while due to increased caution, Burch said local law enforcement has no intention of letting up pressure.

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"We're not going to let off," Burch said. "There's more in our neighborhood than maybe we believed there was, and it's extremely important we push that out. We're going to throw every resource we have at it until we get a handle on it. We're not going to stop totally, but we're going to make life really hard for them, but legally."

Burch said public assistance is more important than ever thanks to the way technology has changed drug deals. Combined with serious police work, things can change.

"The days of dressing like a bum and going in to buy drugs are over," Burch said. "With social media and cell phones you need to really have your ducks in a row to make good arrests, and thankfully we have some really dedicated, hard working investigators going after this."

Cass County isn't working independently either. They have partnered with several drug task forces, including the Crow Wing County Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division Task Force and local police forces where they are working.

Burch encourages concerned residents to always call in any suspicious activity, even if it just doesn't look right.

"If you follow your gut feeling and just let us know, it gives us something to look at," Burch said. "Investigating those tips a lot of times turns into something big, and that's not just with controlled substances. That's with burglaries and a lot of different crimes."

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.