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Methamphetamine headed to Red Lake seized

Joseph Jacob Thunder III1 / 3
Alex Dejesus-Zuniga2 / 3
Delisha Rae Rodriguez3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- Three people were arrested last Friday en route to Red Lake transporting 43 grams of methamphetamine from the Twin Cities.

Alex "Sparky" Dejesus-Zuniga, 18, and Delisha Rae Rodriguez, 25, of Richfield, Minn., and Joseph Jacob "Jake" Thunder III, 47, of Redby, face first-degree conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charges after being stopped by local law enforcement on U.S. Highway 71 south of Bemidji.

At approximately 12:20 a.m. on May 23, the Red Lake Police Department was informed by a citizen informant a Jeep was headed northbound from the Twin Cities approximately 75 to 80 miles from Beltrami County, according to court documents.

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office was in contact with the Red Lake Police Department in reference to the tip at 1 a.m. Red Lake officers were informed several Red Lake Band members were transporting a man to Red Lake for the purpose of distributing a significant amount of methamphetamine to the reservation, according to the documents.

Beltrami County sheriff's deputies and Bemidji Police officers were stationed along U.S. Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 2 on the lookout for the suspect vehicle. At 1:30 a.m., Dejesus-Zuniga, Rodriguez and Thunder were stopped in a green Jeep Cherokee with Red Lake license plates, which matched the description the informant gave law enforcement, according to the complaint. The vehicle was stopped because it matched the description and because it did not have a front bumper.

Once pulled over, law enforcement observed several hypodermic needles strewn about the interior of the vehicle, the complaint said. After a search, Dejesus-Zuniga was found to be in possession of one baggie containing approximately 28.5 grams of methamphetamine and a separate bag containing 14.5 grams was inside Dejesus-Zuniga's backpack. Rodriguez was in possession of several micro-baggies consistent with packaging meth for street sale, according to the criminal complaint.

Thunder told law enforcement he picked up his daughter, Rodriguez, and her friend "Sparky" in the Twin Cities and that they talked about bringing methamphetamine to the Red Lake Reservation because it sold for very high prices on the reservation, according to court documents. Thunder was to receive 1 gram of meth for transporting Rodriguez and Dejesus-Zuniga.

Rodriguez originally told law enforcement she was not aware of methamphetamine in the vehicle and that "Sparky" was a friend who may be moving to Red Lake with her, according to the complaint. Rodriguez later told law enforcement she knew "Sparky" was in possession of meth and that she was a methamphetamine user. She also told law enforcement Dejesus-Zuniga's name was "Louise Dejesus," the same name Dejesus-Zuniga gave law enforcement. Dejesus-Zuniga confessed to owning the backpack but denied knowing there was any methamphetamine inside.

Dejesus-Zuniga, Thunder and Rodriguez are charged with first-degree conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $1,000,000 fine. Dejesus-Zuniga is also charged with giving a peace officer a false name with intent to obstruct justice, which adds another potential 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Thunder's criminal history includes a prior conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine on the Red Lake Indian Reservation filed federally. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2008. Thunder also has two DWI charges in 1993 entered into the Minnesota Court Information System. Dejesus-Zuniga and Rodriguez do not have any charges listed on the MNCIS.

Thunder, Dejesus-Zuniga and Rodriguez are currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail. Future court dates were not available Thursday.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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