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Last of four men involved in drug trafficking ring in Minnesota sentenced

CROOKSTON—The last of four men accused of trafficking cocaine into northwest Minnesota has been sentenced to almost five years in prison.

Polk County District Judge Anne Rasmusson handed down the 58-month sentence Tuesday to 23-year-old Jerardo Gonzalez of East Grand Forks, who pleaded guilty to two second-degree felonies of selling cocaine and a fourth-degree misdemeanor of driving while impaired. Three other charges, including the most serious felony charge of first-degree conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime, was dismissed.

He also was credited 13 days for time served.

Gonzalez was the last to be sentenced in the 2016 case that involved his brother Juan Andres Gonzalez Jr., 26, of Oslo, Minn., Salomon Leandro Gutierrez, 23, and Daniel Morales, 25, both of Crookston. The men were arrested after the Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force said the three trafficked 4 ounces of cocaine over a three-month period in 2014 from North Dakota and Texas to Minnesota.

The Gonzalez brothers and Gutierrez were charged with several felonies, including two first-degree crimes of selling drugs.

Gutierrez pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to 110 months in prison, but that sentence was suspended for 15 years. Instead, he must serve 90 days in jail and qualifies for work release.

Juan Gonzalez was sentenced in April to 73 months in prison and credited 22 days for time served.

Morales pleaded guilty to five felony counts of selling drugs and was sentenced in December 2016 to 60 months in jail with credit for 240 days of time served.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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