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Drug-laced chocolate goodies lead to felony charges

Three men have been charged with felony first-degree controlled substance crime (possession -- over 500 grams) and two counts each of fifth-degree controlled substance crime (possession) after allegedly being caught with several grocery bags of marijuana- and hallucinogenic mushroom-laced chocolate goodies in the back of their car on Highway 59 near Sauer Lake.

On Thursday, a trooper monitoring traffic on Highway 59 near Sauer Lake noticed a passenger car with dark-tinted windows that appeared to be tinted to a degree illegal in Minnesota, according to court records.

He pulled the car over and all three young men inside showed signs of nervousness. The trooper also allegedly noted signs of marijuana use -- residue in the car and physical signs on the driver.

The driver, Brandon Terrence VanKirk, 28, of 600 Grand Ave. No. 3, St Paul, consented to a search of the car.

The passengers were Matthew Philip Hammond, 28, of 27 West 14th St., Minneapolis (in the passenger seat) and Justin Levi Mack, 28, of 2028 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis (in the back seat).

The trooper allegedly found 1.3 grams of amphetamines (with packaging) on the passenger side floor.

There was also allegedly 13 grams of marijuana in a glass jar in the glove compartment, and another 16 grams of marijuana in a black duffel bag.

In the back set was a grocery bag that allegedly contained numerous chocolate bunnies wrapped in tin foil that tested positive for marijuana. Gross package weight was 1,082 grams.

There were also numerous baked goods, including brownies wrapped in tin foil in a grocery bag in the back seat. They allegedly contained hallucinogenic mushrooms. Total gross weight was 4,497 grams.

The three appeared Monday before District Judge Joe Evans.

He set bail or bond at $50,000 for VanKirk, whose next court appearance is Aug. 4.

Evans set bail or bond at $25,000 for Hammond, whose next court appearance is set for Sept. 2, and the same amount for Mack, whose next appearance is set for Aug. 4.

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