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Dejuan Thornton pleads not guilty to intent to deliver heroin, methamphetamine

Dejuan Ranier Thornton, 40, entered not guilty pleas on Thursday to Class B felony intent to deliver heroin and Class B felony intent to deliver methamphetamine.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, the Ward County Narcotics Task Force obtained a search warrant on April 17 to search Thornton’s rented motel room, located at the Guest Lodge at 1927 North Broadway. In Room 201, authorities found approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine and a plastic bag containing four individually wrapped packages of a white powder consistent with heroin or fentanyl in a kitchen cabinet. Thornton was not in the room at the time of the search but was arrested a short time later and taken to the Ward County Jail.

Charles Johnson, a Minot police officer assigned to the Ward County Narcotics Task Force, testified at a probable cause hearing on Thursday for Thornton that Thornton had admitted in an interview with law enforcement that he sells methamphetamine and was planning to use the heroin with his buddies in his apartment. Thornton reportedly named David Ramone Taylor, 28, as his supplier. Taylor was charged late last month in another case with Class B felony conspiracy to deliver fentanyl, Class B felony possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver, and Class C felony manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia. According to court documents in that case, Taylor and his co-defendant had just arrived in Minot from Detroit when they were arrested. Detroit has been described as a major area supply of opioids in the area. Johnson testified that a manager at the Guest Lodge had told police in March that he suspected that Thornton and a woman who has not been charged in this case were planning a trip to Detroit to get a supply of drugs they would then bring back to the Minot area to sell. Other residents at the Guest Lodge had told law enforcement that Thornton has been supplying drugs at the hotel. Johnson acknowledged that Thornton was not involved in any controlled buys set up by the Task Force and no one he could identify specifically said that Thornton had delivered drugs.

Defense attorney Ashley Gulke also questioned Johnson regarding an 18-year-old who died in April of an overdose and had been observed going in and out of rooms at the Guest Lodge prior to his death. Gulke said the overdose death was mentioned in a police affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Thornton’s hotel room. Thornton has not been charged in connection with any overdose.

Thornton had reportedly been doing odd jobs at the Guest Lodge for income. Rooms are available for rent at the Guest Lodge for what is a low rate in the Minot area. The hotel has been a site of previous drug busts.

Gulke said the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant was filled with false information.

North Central District Court Judge Stacy Louser found probable cause for the case to move forward, but said other issues could be addressed at an upcoming hearing.

A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for Sept. 9.

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