A Thief River Falls man was sentenced Thursday, March 11 in Pennington County District Court for possessing methamphetamine in 2019.
James Alan Hanson, 40, was sentenced to a felony charge of second-degree possession of 25 grams or more of cocaine or methamphetamine. A felony charge of first-degree controlled substance crime – sale – was dismissed.
For the former offense, Hanson was ordered to serve 90 months in prison. He was ordered to not use or possess firearms, ammunition, or explosives. Hanson was ordered to supply a DNA sample. He was ordered to pay $210 in fees and fines. The charges stemmed from an ongoing drug investigation involving 307-1/2 Arnold Ave. S. in Thief River Falls, according to the complaint. Law enforcement knew James Shaugabay and convicted murderer Devon Pulczinski lived there.
Hanson and Peyton Stuhaug were apparently staying there as well. In winter 2019, a Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force officer was conducting surveillance and observed two individuals entering the home on different occasions over the past month. One man had been charged with a controlled substance crime in 2018, and the other man’s name had come up in prior drug investigations.
On March 13, 2019, the task force officer learned from a confidential informant that he had purchased meth from Shaugabay at the home several times over the last three months. Five days later, the task force officer received an anonymous complaint regarding Shaugabay and Pulczinski “‘constantly” selling methamphetamine and heroin out of the residence.”
Garbage was confiscated after it had been placed outside for pickup. Drug paraphernalia was found inside. It included a broken glass pipe with suspected meth residue and a small gramtype baggie containing suspected meth residue. Given what had been found and Shaugabay’s 2010 drug conviction, a search warrant was drafted for the apartment.
Prior to executing the search warrant, the task force officer learned that a source indicated the home contained firearms and those with the firearms “had made threats of violence towards law enforcement and others.”
On March 22, 2019, 10 law enforcement officers from the task force, Thief River Falls Police Department, and Pennington County Sheriff’s Office executed the search warrant.
Shaugabay was apprehended in a laundry room. He possessed drug paraphernalia, including a contacts lens case containing cotton pieces and meth residue. Hanson was located in a bedroom featuring numerous swords and knives.
A search warrant was later executed for Hanson’s person due to his known drug use, past drug convictions, and since he was the subject of a suspected drug overdose investigation in 2018.
A confidential, reliable informant had also informed law enforcement that Hanson had received meth within the last two weeks. While searching Hanson’s person, law enforcement found a bundle of plastic baggies with meth, individually wrapped wax papers containing 8.16 grams of hash oil, and $2,170 in cash.
While keeping watch over Hanson and Stuhaug, an officer observed Hanson fumbling with his back pocket. A short time later, the officer found a bag of meth on the floor in that location. With the meth found on Hanson’s person included, a total of 11 individually wrapped baggies of suspected meth were found. The meth weighed 39.97 grams.
Inside a bedroom used by Stuhaug and Hanson, law enforcement found Stuhaug’s purse containing an apparent drug ledger with names and dollar amounts. The task force officer recognized some of the individuals as drug users. The bedroom also contained a vase with a mixture of 12.4 grams of suspected meth and small bits of cotton; a tube containing 0.3 grams of meth; a rubber container with 3.83 grams of hash oil; two pipes containing suspected meth residue; and other drug paraphernalia.
The task force officer learned the sheriff’s office was investigating a Feb. 28, 2019, report of suspected narcotics at Seven Clans Casino, Hotel, and Water Park. Inside a room occupied by Hanson, Stuhaug, and Shaugabay, law enforcement found hash oil, meth residue, marijuana, and a pipe for smoking marijuana and/or hash oil.
They also found a book featuring Stuhaug’s first and middle names as well as a ledger similar to the one found at the apartment. In the past year, before this case, the task force officer “had received a tip regarding Hanson and Stuhaug selling methamphetamine together,” according to the complaint.
Stuhaug and Shaugabay have since been sentenced for their roles in the case. Pulczinski was never charged in connection with this case.