Faribault, MN (KROC-AM News) - Two people have been charged with drug-related crimes after over 3,000 Fentanyl pills were found during a traffic stop in Faribault.

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According to a news release from the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force, agents received information that 31-year-old Christopher Payne was involved in the sales of Fentanyl and illegally in possession of firearms in Faribault.

On May 13th, Faribault Police Officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for a stop sign violation and expired vehicle registration. During the traffic stop, Payne was identified as the driver of the vehicle. The passenger was identified as 31-year-old Kaley Wethern, who Payne said was his girlfriend and the owner of the vehicle.

Authorities said Faribault K9 conducted a search of the vehicle and found a backpack in the rear seat that contained a handgun, a glass smoking pipe, and documents containing Payne’s name. Another backpack was searched and officers found a plastic container containing around 3,000 suspected suppressed blue and gray Fentanyl pills.

Photo Courtesy of Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Office
Photo Courtesy of Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Office
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Agents tested multiple pills of different colors and they tested presumptive positive for Fentanyl.

Payne and Wethern were arrested for controlled substance crimes.

The next day agents executed a search warrant in the 500 block of 6th Street Northwest in Faribault where Payne and Wethern live. Agents found a small amount of methamphetamine and a letter written by Wethern that acknowledged that Payne was providing controlled substances to others and that those individuals may need Narcan which is used to reverse the effects of an overdose.

Agents interviewed Wethern and she admitted that she carried the container with the Fentanyl pills so her DNA and fingerprints would likely be on it. Wethern also admitted that she was aware of the firearm in the vehicle but that it belongs to Payne. Wethern also acknowledged writing the letter found at the residence.

Payne was charged with two felony drug crimes and a felony for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm in Rice County Court Wednesday. Wethern was charged with felony drug possession on May 16th.

The Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force said typically Fentanyl pills sell individually for approximately $25 per pill. The street value of the Fentanyl pills if sold individually would be worth $75,000.

“Over the past few years, Fentanyl overdose deaths have been on the rise. I’m proud of the continued effort and teamwork by the Task Force Agents, Patrol Divisions, and local detectives working together to take these dangerous drugs out of our community," Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force Commander Scott O'Brien said. "This significant seizure undoubtedly saved lives in Rice and Le Sueur County and others across the state of Minnesota.”

“Fentanyl overdose deaths are at an all-time high in our local communities, and those around the country. The work the task force agents and our local deputies and officers do daily is so important in preventing overdose deaths, but we can’t do it alone," Cannon River Valley Drug and Violent Offender Task Force Board Chair and Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott said. "We need our friends and neighbors to report suspected drug dealing to us, and we are thankful for those that help us do our jobs. We also ask that if you or someone you know is battling addiction please try to get help”

In Rice County, you can call the Mobile Opioid Support Team (MOST) at (507) 299-0204 or online, and throughout the nation, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

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