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Office of Justice Programs

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
 

Violent Crime Enforcement Teams

Overview 

This state and federally funded program authorized under Minnesota Statutes 299A.642 was created to provide funding and guidance for the operation of multijurisdictional task forces that address narcotics, gang and related violent crime. The goal is to increase the identification and arrest of serious law violators and enhance the amount of law enforcement expertise available statewide for complex investigations that cross jurisdictional boundaries. There are currently twenty-one funded task forces that span seventy counties. The task forces are staffed by over 200 investigators from over 120 agencies.

To coordinate and oversee these multijurisdictional entities, the 2010 Minnesota Legislature established the Violent Crime Coordinating Council (VCCC) to provide guidance related to the investigation and prosecution of gang and drug crime. The VCCC provides direction and oversight to the multijurisdictional task forces and enforcement teams located throughout the state. The VCCC works closely with the Commissioner of Public Safety and is charged with additional responsibilities governing the operation of multijurisdictional VCETs.

Program Activities and Outcomes

 Each VCET provides extensive data and narrative reports on a quarterly basis.  This information assists the department in allocating funds and analyzing drug and violent crime trends throughout the state.  Select VCET activities and reported data for 2015 and 2020follow: 
 
Activity​ 2015​ 2020
​Total number of drug arrests ​3,015 ​3,077
Total number of non-drug arrests​ 1,134 1,121
Percentage of violent crimes (Part 1)​ ​18% ​19%
​Number of arrests involving cocaine 267 197
Number of arrests involving heroin ​ ​336 ​293
​Number of arrests involving methamphetamine 2,028 1,435
​Number of arrests involving prescription drugs 734 ​247
​Number of children removed during arrest 399 ​315
​Number of guns seized 934 880
​Amount of heroin seized (grams) ​8,213 7,348
​Amount of meth seized (grams) 104,473 ​522,762
​Amount of cocaine seized (grams) 5,849 8,982
Amount of prescription drugs seized (dosage units) ​17,717 30,064
​Number of cases coordinated with other agencies ​1,546 ​1,404
​Number of community presentations given   ​417 156
​Number of people in attendance at community meetings 20,036
​​Number of community outreach events* ​* ​499
 *Added in 2016
 
2020 VCET data showed a general decrease in the number of cases and seizures from 2019, but most indicators remain significantly higher than they were five years ago. COVID-19 restrictions caused changes in investigative techniques, reduced in-person contact with informants and targets, and increased use of electronic resources for tracking and surveillance. VCET staff were often redeployed to cover shifts when local agency staff were on sick leave or quarantined. Some jurisdictions also redeployed VCET investigators to assist with civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There were also VCET on leave to serve in the Minnesota National Guard. By the fall of 2020, most VCET units were fully staffed and operational. 

Methamphetamine continues to be the most prevalent drug investigated and seized across the state. Opioids, including heroin, prescription drugs and synthetic narcotics like fentanyl are also a priority for VCET investigations. Other drug trafficking trends highlighted in VCET reports include:
  •  Methamphetamine labs are down from 410 in 2003 to less than 20 in the last several years. 
  • Overall, the prices of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin are down significantly, and availability has increased. Note: COVID-19 has caused the price to increase as availability has decreased, but that trend is expected to reverse in 2021 as the U.S. returns to normal pre-COVID-19 operations.
  • ​Large shipments of narcotics via Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s) have been increasing over the past few years. It is common to seize 30 or more pounds of narcotics when in the past, a seizure of a few pounds was significant.
  • Minnesota has evolved from a destination to a distribution hub for the Midwest.
  • Traffickers now using trackers and other electronic devices to follow their loads and communication apps to avoid detection by law enforcement. 
  • Cryptocurrency and pay services such as Venmo and PayPal have begun to grow in popularity. This allows traffickers to be paid and move large amounts of wealth in private without the risk of robbery or detection.

For more information contact:
Kristin Lail, 651-201-7322
Kristin.Lail@state.mn.us

 

Drug Disposal information  

The Office of Justice Programs is working with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) the 3M Corporation to coordinate destruction of seized controlled substances. See the BCA appointment form below for more information: 

For more information on managing waste at law enforcement agencies, please visit the Pollution Control Agency.

For more information contact:
Ken Sass, 651-755-9545
kenneth.sass@state.mn.us