GRAND FORKS -- A Neche, N.D., man suspected to be involved in a "large-scale narcotics trafficking organization" between California and North Dakota was arrested last week after the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force seized nearly 16 grams of drugs and multiple firearms from his home.
Audie Ray Cameron, 61, will make his initial appearance in Pembina County District Court on Monday, Feb. 10. He has been charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy. Each charge holds a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine, if he is convicted.
Cameron also was charged with felony possession of drug paraphernalia, which holds a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine, if convicted.
According to an affidavit for Cameron's arrest, the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force conducted a search of the trash at Cameron's residence on Jan. 9. Analysis of the trash turned up mail addressed to Cameron, a digital scale box and a sandwich baggie with the corner cut off and a white crystal residue inside, according to the affidavit, written by task force officer Douglas Hill.
The task force has been investigating Cameron since spring 2019. Cameron has been the subject of two controlled purchases of methamphetamine by confidential informants, according to Hill. The investigation involves a number of other Pembina County residents, including Kassie Lynn Wilson, 30, of Cavalier.
On Jan. 27, after being advised of her rights, Wilson told Hill that she had collected more than 400 grams of methamphetamine on Cameron's behalf about a month prior, according to the affidavit. She also said she believed Cameron still had a large amount of narcotics in his possession.
The information Wilson gave investigators matched what they had been told previously by someone identified in the affidavit as a confidential informant. The informant also told investigators that it was not Wilson's first time picking up methamphetamine for Cameron.
Wilson said she received 30 grams of methamphetamine from Cameron for her assistance, according to the affidavit.
Wilson obtained the drugs at the fairgrounds in Hamilton, N.D., but the informant told investigators that the original plan was for her to pick up the drugs at the 5-81 Country Bar and Grill in Hamilton, which was owned by Harley Hoag, 32, of California, according to the affidavit.
Wilson told investigators Hoag had been supplying Cameron with narcotics since 2019.
5-81 Country Bar and Grill closed sometime in 2019, though it is unclear when. Hill told the Herald that the bar was closed by the time he took over the investigation in March 2019, but one Hamilton resident said it was open through the summer and cleared out around July or August. The bar's Facebook page was last updated Sept. 20.
The bar's business license was initially filed with the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office in 1989 and ownership of the bar was transferred to Marissa Araujo on Oct. 11, 2018.
Araujo appears to be an associate of Hoag, as the two were arrested together in 2013 on suspicion of a slew of drug trafficking crimes in French Camp, Calif., a town outside of Modesto, according to a report from The Record, a Stockton-based newspaper. Hoag was sentenced in San Joaquin County Superior Court in September 2013, but information about the case was limited due to its age.
On Jan. 27, the same day Wilson spoke to investigators, the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant of Cameron's residence.
The search turned up 13.6 grams of methamphetamine, 2.3 grams of cocaine, and 10 guns, two of which were kept with the narcotics, according to court documents. The search also turned up a variety of electronic devices, surveillance equipment and drug paraphernalia.
A second search of a Neche residence, believed to be a "stash" house used by Cameron, turned up 20 grams of a white powder, 264 grams of a clear crystal-like substance and several THC edibles, along with drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.
Hill told the Herald he took over the Cameron investigation from a federal investigator. He declined to say which agency they were affiliated with.
Cameron's bail was set at $50,000 cash or surety, and he was released from custody last week after paying the full sum. As conditions of his pre-trial release, he was placed on house arrest between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., and he is subject to random drug testing and daily check-ins with the court via phone. He was also ordered not to leave the state and not to possess firearms.
Wilson is being held in Pembina County Jail and is facing charges of criminal conspiracy and possession of drug paraphernalia. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine if convicted, and the possession charge carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. She will appear in court for her initial appearance on Feb. 10 along with Cameron.
Hoag was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia in Pembina County in April 2019. He pleaded guilty to the charges on Sept. 19 and was given 18 months of supervised probation as part of the plea agreement.