Alleged fentanyl dealer arrested while on bail


January 27, 2023

A Cloquet man who was charged in October for having 1,200 fentanyl pills in his possession is facing new drug charges.

James Daniel Randa, 19, and Kaydance Marie Barrett, 18, were charged with felony second-degree drug sale and fifth-degree drug possession in Sixth District Court in Carlton County after Black Bear Casino surveillance staff observed possible drug use activity in the parking lot earlier this month.

Fond du Lac police responded to a call Jan. 9 from security and observed video of people in two vehicles handling and smoking an unknown substance on tinfoil, bringing it back and forth between the cars to smoke.

According to the criminal complaint, when officers arrived on the scene only one car remained, a green Impala, occupied by a male driver, Randa, and a female passenger, identified as Barrett. When approaching the car, officers said they smelled marijuana and observed a rolled up dollar bill with burned brown residue and white powder nearby, so they deployed a K9.

After a sweep around the vehicle, the dog indicated the presence of drugs so the officers searched the vehicle. They allegedly found a piece of burned tinfoil in a white purse and a plastic bag containing approximately 50 pills (weighing 35.23 grams) marked with the letter M on one side and the number 30 on the other. State officials have said that so-called “M30” pills are counterfeit oxycodone pills and contain fentanyl. A pill from the bag tested positive for the presence of fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid. Officers also found three M30 pills on Barrett when she was arrested.

In another bag, officers found a small bag of white powder (1.17 grams) and a hard plastic container with a white crystal-like substance, both which tested for the presence of methamphetamine.

In October, Randa was arrested after a concerned citizen called in suspicious activity at Pinehurst Park. When they stopped Randa, police officers allegedly found more than 1,200 fentanyl pills in the BMW he was driving along with a backpack containing more than $7,150 and a loaded handgun.

He posted a non-cash bond of $100,000 in October and was released. An omnibus hearing in that case is set for Feb. 1. Bail in the most recent case was set at $300,000.

Carlton County attorney Lauri Ketola said a dose of fentanyl as small as three grains of sand can be lethal.

“Part of what makes these pills so dangerous is that it is impossible for the average person to know how much fentanyl is in each pill,” Ketola told the Pine Knot in October, pointing out that two teenagers in the county had died from overdoses in the previous six months.

On the street, one of the pills would sell for about $5, Ketola said. Although the M30 pills are made to look like a prescription Oxycodone pill, fentanyl pills can come in a rainbow of colors.

Ketola said the pills are even more dangerous because they make taking drugs easy to do and easy to hide: there are no injections and track marks, no smell for parents to identify, just a pill.

According to a new report issued this summer by the Minnesota Department of Health, most overdose deaths in 2021 were associated with fentanyl. The 1,286 overdose deaths reported to the health department last year represented a 22 percent increase from the 2020 total.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm wants to expand programs that make it easier for people to access naloxone — a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses and save lives.


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