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Renville man sentenced in case of synthetic marijuana sent through mail

WILLMAR — Derek Bergen Ellingson, 24, of Renville, was sentenced Wednesday to a year of probation on two felony charges of synthetic cannabinoid possession for his role in ordering 2.8 pounds of the substance on the Internet and receiving the shipment of more than 300 ready-to-sell packets last summer at the Willmar post office.

The charges against Ellingson will be dismissed in a year if he meets the probation requirements and cooperates with the investigation and prosecution of his co-defendant, Andrew Lee Gomez, 25, of Willmar,

Gomez also faces the same two felony charges, plus five felony charges of burglary, robbery, assault and terroristic threats for allegedly entering an apartment in September and beating a man he suspected was a drug informant to law enforcement. His next appearance is Monday in the synthetic marijuana case and June 16 in the burglary case.

Ellingson’s sentence was handed down by District Judge Michael Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court.

The charges were filed after CEE-VI Drug Task Force agents received information July 22 from an informant who said Gomez had purchased $1,500 worth of synthetic cannabinoid from a person in Florida and that Ellingson was to pick up the drug shipment at the local post office. The person also gave agents the tracking number of the package.

Postal inspectors received a federal search warrant and met local agents at the post office on July 29, when the package was received. The tracking number matched that given by the informant and when the officials opened the box, they found smaller packages inside the box.

The substance was tested and determined to be synthetic cannabinoid.

A postal clerk informed the agents and inspectors that Ellingson had already been to the post office looking for the package and had been sent to get the tracking number. He returned later, received the package and was promptly arrested as he exited the building.

In an interview at the Law Enforcement Center, Ellingson told investigators that there were 375 smaller packages in the box, said the shipment cost $1,500 and that he had picked up the package on Gomez’s behalf. He also that Gomez had made similar purchases four times in the past four months. The agents counted 326 packages, each weighing four grams, for a total of 1,304 grams, 2.87 pounds, of the substance.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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