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Morris Police make arrests in local meth operation

Matthew James Hart2 / 4
Drew Stephen Middlebrook3 / 4
4 / 4

MORRIS - A tip from a local pharmacy led the Morris Police Department to three arrests related to a methamphetamine ring operating in the Morris area.

According to police reports, a tip from Pamida in Morris at the end of July about a suspicious individual purchasing the maximum amount of Sudafedrin allowed by law led the Morris Police Department to identifying individuals with connections to methamphetamine manufacturing and a local burglary at West Central Implement.

The police have arrested and charged three men in connection to the operation, but know there are still more people involved, according to Morris Police Chief Jim Beauregard.

Matthew James Hart, 24, of Morris has been charged with third degree burglary, theft, and fourth degree damage to property. Maxwell Thomas Bauer, 24, of Graceville, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine precursors with intent to manufacture.

Drew Stephen Middlebrook, 23, of Rochester, has been charged with second degree refusal to submit to chemical testing, third degree operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance, third degree driving while impaired, third degree burglary, theft, and possession of methamphetamine precursors with the intent to manufacture.

The methamphetamine project began in mid-July when according to police records Bauer said he and Middlebrook began purchasing Sudafedrin in Morris and Alexandria to provide to a methamphetamine manufacturer Bauer met in prison. Investigation into the records kept by the three pharmacies confirmed that Bauer and Middlebrook did indeed purchase Sudafedrin in late July.

According to Bauer's statement, the alleged manufacturer - who remains out of police custody - agreed to produce the methamphetamine if Middlebrook and Bauer would provide the Sudafedrin and commit some burglaries so he would have money before returning to prison.

After turning over the Sudafedrin - and smoking methamphetamine and marijuana in Midlebrook's car - Bauer told police he decided he did not want to be involved in the plan and left, returning to his parents' residence in Graceville.

Middlebook and Hart are also accused of breaking into West Central Implement in Morris and stealing a 2006 Sun L Motorsports scooter and numerous Arctic Cat coats and helmets sometime during the weekend of July 22 - 24. Police records indicate Middlebrook told police he and Hart broke into the building Sunday, July 24 after producing methamphetamine in Middlebrook's car.

Although Hart initially denied any connection to the burglaries, he later told police "he accompanied Middlebrook to the location and provided some assistance due to Middlebrook's inexperience in burglaries," police records state.

At about 5:00 the next morning, Middlebrook was pulled over by Morris Police for driving erratically in downtown Morris. According to police reports, Middlebrook "appeared very agitated and his movements were very quick and jerky."

Middlebrook told police he had recently used methamphetamine because "he was working undercover with a different agency and that was the only way he could leave his dealer," the report states. Middlebrook was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of narcotics.

Middlebrook's arrest lead the police to other individuals connected to the methamphetamine manufacturing and the burglary, said Beauregard.

While Beauregard emphasized that methamphetamine is not rampant in the area, these incidents can still serve a reminder to the public that although methamphetamine has been cut back thanks to stricter precursor laws, it can still be a problem.

"It's a good heads up to the public that we want them to know that not only are we working to be diligent about finding out and knowing about and curbing that type of behavior in our community," said Beauregard.