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Local authorities pinch dealers

During a recent drug bust, neither the cops nor the dealers got exactly what they expected.

Using a police informant, Goodhue County Sheriff's Department in tandem with Red Wing police set up and executed a controlled drug buy Tuesday. The sting resulted in the arrest of two Red Wing men and a St. Paul man.

But it turns out the cops weren't the only ones planning a ruse -- the drugs were also fake.

Lab results showed the supposed ounce of "meth" the police informant bought for $1,600 was phony, according to a criminal complaint.

"We've been successful at buying real narcotics from narcotics suspects, but sometimes we do get fake narcotics," said Sheriff's Department Captain Pat Thompson, adding that selling phony drugs is still a crime.

The alleged swindlers -- Tony Staten, 34, 206 1/2 W. Sixth St., Curtis Venzant, 28, 616 1/2 Centennial St., and Joseph Perkins, 26, St. Paul - have each been charged with six felonies apiece.

The charges carry prison sentences ranging from three to five years.

According the criminal complaint:

The informant set up a deal with Staten to meet at the Kwik Trip on the western side of Red Wing. The informant was aware others might be coming with Staten.

Shortly after meeting at the gas station, the parties moved to 5140 Moundview Drive. The informant said Staten was concerned cops were around.

The parties exchanged the money for the phony drugs. Staten told the informant, "buddy said it's good stuff."

After the exchange, the three men left heading west on Highway 61. Shortly thereafter local authorities stopped the car, which turned out to be a rental with Missouri plates.

After searching the men, authorities found $16,000 on Perkins.

Both Perkins and Venzant said they did not know a drug deal was supposedly going down. Each said they simply thought they were giving Staten a ride.

Staten, meanwhile, admitted to being the middleman in the deal. He said he had given the money to Perkins when he got in the car after the exchange.