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Accused East Ridge drug dealer sentenced to jail

A teenager accused of selling drugs on East Ridge High School grounds was sentenced last month to 60 days in jail.

Erik D. Flanders, 19, was convicted and sentenced Feb. 21 on one count fifth-degree marijuana sales, a felony. Two more severe charges - third-degree narcotics sales and fourth-degree marijuana sales in a school zone - were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

The case was settled in January, just as it was about to go to jury trial.

In addition to the jail time, 10th District Court Judge Mary Hannon sentenced Flanders to five years on probation and a $185 fine. Probationary terms include attending a chemical health evaluation and completing a mental health program.

Flanders was arrested following a sting last year at East Ridge following tips related to drug trafficking at the school.

Police apprehended Flanders during a traffic stop, where he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle.

According to a criminal complaint:

Washington County Narcotics Task Force members put Flanders under surveillance following complaints of narcotics trafficking. Flanders was identified by Woodbury police as a primary suspect.

Detectives watched April 1 as Flanders and another teen performed a hand-to-hand exchange between vehicles in the East Ridge parking lot.

The detectives followed Flanders to Bielenberg Sports Center, where he was spotted making a brief interaction with another male teenager at his vehicle's window.

Officers stopped Flanders' vehicle; he allegedly admitted to selling marijuana to at least one person. An occupant of the first vehicle later admitted buying $20 worth of marijuana from Flanders, who he said was known to sell marijuana in East Ridge.

In addition to marijuana allegations, police said Flanders' cell phone housed hundreds of drug-related text messages involving other drugs including cocaine, morphine, oxycontin and ecstasy.

When detectives conducted a forensic search of Flanders' cell phone, thousands of text messages were found. Police examined what prosecutors called a "representative sample" of the messages - approximately 1,100 from a one-week period - most of which police said referred to buying or selling drugs.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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