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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Federal Jury Convicts Coon Rapids Man For His Role In Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald announced the conviction of JAMES FLAHERTY HILL, a/k/a “Whitey,” 36, for his role in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. HILL was found guilty following a seven-day trial before Senior Judge Donovan W. Frank in U.S. District Court in Saint Paul, Minnesota. HILL’s co-defendants JAMES LEE JOHNSON, JUSTIN MICHAEL DRECHSEL, JERE DG ERICKSON, ANTHONY JAMES LANSING, CHELSEY ELIZABETH NELSON, and NICHOLE ROSE WOODWORTH each pleaded guilty to count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and as proven at trial, HILL’s co-defendant, JOHNSON, led a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that distributed methamphetamine throughout the state of Minnesota. From November 2016 through August 2018, investigators with the Anoka-Hennepin Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force conducted an extensive investigation of the DTO. On November 14, 2016, law enforcement observed a DTO co-conspirator travel to HILL’s Coon Rapids residence, then travel to a truck stop, and then return to HILL’s residence. When the co-conspirator again left HILL’s residence, Blaine police officers initiated a traffic stop and found, inside the vehicle, several packages wrapped in plastic containing approximately 35 pounds of methamphetamine. Later that day, agents observed HILL attempting to remove items of contraband from his from his home, some of which were later seized from a co-conspirator’s vehicle, including multiple pounds of marijuana, one pound of methamphetamine, one pound of cocaine, four handguns and a rifle. By that night, law enforcement executed a search warrant at HILL’s residence and recovered various items consistent with a drug distribution operation, including scales, multiple burner phones, and multiple additional firearms.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Anoka-Hennepin Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Blaine Police Department, and the Midwest Regional Forensic Laboratory.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter.


Defendant Information:

JAMES FLAHERTY HILL, a/k/a “Whitey,” 36

Coon Rapids, Minn.


  • Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, 1 count
  • Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 1 count




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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Drug Trafficking
Updated September 18, 2019