Red Lake man charged after authorities seize more than $65,000 in cash and prescription pills

Law enforcement authorities seized more than $65,000 in cash and more than $500 worth of prescription pills, which lead to criminal drug charges against a Red Lake man.

Law enforcement authorities seized more than $65,000 in cash and more than $500 worth of prescription pills, which lead to criminal drug charges against a Red Lake man.

Duane Perry Spears, 31, was charged Thursday with fifth-degree drug possession in Cass County District Court following a traffic stop by the Minnesota State Patrol.

According to court documents, Spears was arrested following a series of observations made by the state trooper, including drug possession and admitting the pills and cash were his. Other observations included Spears being under the influence, an odor of marijuana from the vehicle, lack of eye contact and giving law enforcement four different stories not fitting with the timeline. Spears had cellphone messages of drug sales/activity.

Spears, who did not have an attorney available, appeared before Judge Jana Austad, who set a Rule 8 hearing for Feb. 23. The judge also set bond along with several conditions, such as no alcohol or controlled substances, remaining in Minnesota and making all court appearances.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Spears:


• At 10:50 a.m. Feb. 3, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper was on patrol near Motley. As the trooper was slowing down to pull into a parking area on Highway 210, he observed a black SUV and the driver did not signal his turn within 100 feet of the stop sign. The trooper also observed the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. The trooper followed the SUV and noticed the driver again did not signal his turn again on Highway 10 in Motley. The trooper observed the driver watching him in his side rearview mirror and as the vehicle approached the first available turn, it suddenly turned left into a gas station, again failing to signal its turn.

Based on the trooper's experience and training, he believed the occupants in the vehicle were well aware of his proximity to them and were attempting to evade him. The trooper activated his emergency lights to initiate the traffic stop.

• The trooper made a passenger side approach and observed two males in the front seats of the vehicle and a female in the back seat of the SUV. He asked the female to roll down her window as he could not see inside it due to the dark tint. The trooper could smell the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle. He continued to smell this as he was speaking to the occupants. He also observed the male and the female passengers to be under the influence of some type of narcotic analgesic as he observed their eyes to be bloodshot and watery with small constricted pupils.

• The trooper advised the individuals of the reasons for the stop and he requested their identifications. Neither the driver or male passenger had their identification with them, however the female passenger had her driver's license. The driver was identified as Damien Seth Thunder, the male passenger was Spears and the female was Mandee Nicole Hayes.

• The trooper noticed each time he asked Thunder a question, Spears would immediately start speaking to him and take control of answering. The trooper thought this was unusual and noted Spears would answer questions, but avoid eye contact. Thunder stared straight ahead and gave the appearance of not wanting to interact with the trooper.

• Spears said they were coming from the Red Lake area and heading to look at a Ford Expedition SUV for sale in the Royalton area. Spears said he contacted his friend last night to drive them to look at the vehicle and he had received tax money and wanted to purchase the vehicle with the money.

• The trooper returned to his squad and entered all the parties' names into his computer. He discovered Thunder was validly licensed and the two passengers had revoked or suspended licenses. He returned to the SUV and asked Thunder to exit the vehicle to speak with him further. When Thunder exited the SUV, the trooper observed a white straw with colored markings on the sides, cut in half and lying in the lower center console area. The trooper noted a straw like that is used for snorting pills or powdered forms of drugs. Thunder advised the trooper Spears had asked him for a ride the previous night. He said Spears had borrowed his mother's vehicle and arrived at his home at 6 a.m. Thunder said they drove directly to their current location from Red Lake. Thunder appeared to be nervous, however denied any knowledge of any sort of contraband in the SUV.

• The trooper then asked Spears to exit the SUV. He was patted down for weapons and the trooper asked him whether he had any cash on him to purchase the vehicle he was talking about. Spears patted his pocket and said he had $2,200 on him. He was then asked to wait in front of the SUV. The trooper again questioned him about the contents of the SUV when Spears eventually stammered and said there might be some money in the back seat. The trooper asked him how much money and noted Spears stuttered again and said he had $30,000 in there. Spears indicated the money was from his taxes. He did not have any receipts or documentation showing where the money came from.


• The trooper next had Hayes exit the vehicle. She denied any knowledge of contraband in the vehicle. She said there was some money under the seat and believed it was going to be used to purchase a used SUV. She was placed in the rear seat of the squad car to stay warm during the remainder of the investigation.

• The trooper observed Spears take his phone out at which time he ordered him to give him the phone. He also gathered phones of all the individuals at that time. The trooper feared Spears was attempting to communicate with others involved in his criminal activity about being stopped by police.

• The trooper directed his attention to the vehicle to search it based upon the odor of marijuana and the drug paraphernalia he observed in plain view. The trooper picked up the straw in the center console and observed it had a white residue inside one end consistent with snorting of crushed pain pills.

• Spears phone rang when the trooper was searching the vehicle. The trooper observed the phone to have numerous text messages and a long list of contacts. Many of the messages were to Spears asking about buying certain types of pills and marijuana from him. The trooper then moved to the middle seat area and observed a prescription pill grinder on the floor behind the front passenger seat console area. He also observed numerous prescription pills inside one end of the grinder. He then searched Hayes' purse sitting on the opposite seat. He found a red pill bottle appearing to contain Gabapentin pills. He also found a white marijuana pipe and a used red straw, one the trooper believed to be used for snorting pills. The trooper also found two plastic baggies full of U.S. currency. He removed the bags and set them on the hood showing them to Spears advising him it looked like more than $30,000. Spears said it might be closer to $60,000.

• The trooper arrested Spears and the other two were released. While taking out the pills to identify them, Spears said the pills were Percocet 10s and 30s. He said the pills were his and he bought them a few days ago. He stated they sell for $10 a pill. The trooper identified the pills as 10 and 30 milligrams of Oxycodone. The trooper noted the current northern outstate average price for Oxycodone is $3 per milligram, the approximate value of the pills in Spear's possession was $500.

• Spears admitted to not having a prescription for the pills and said he takes them himself. He said the money was from taxes and he was going to buy a used car and possibly get a home or apartment to live in. The trooper noted this was the third time Spears had changed his story about the money and what it was to be used for.

• At the Crow Wing County Jail Spears was advised of his Miranda rights and he agreed to speak with the trooper. Spears again told the trooper of the trip to Red Lake. The trooper made note the story did not make sense with the timeline. Spears said he takes the prescription pills but does not have a prescription. He then changed his story about the money stating he had been saving money since 2010 by working odd jobs. He advised the trooper he was going to move to the area and was looking for a car and an apartment/house to buy, but did not have any further details. Spears did not know the name of the auto dealership he was going to be dealing with, nor did he know the exact location of where the vehicle was.

• The trooper noted in his report Spears had now changed his story about the money and reasons for his travel four times.


JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at .

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