A 30-year-old Prior Lake man was convicted of possession and sale of a large amount of heroin following a series of drug arrests in Bloomington last year.
Igor Albantov was convicted April 21 in Hennepin County District Court. He will be sentenced May 26, and prosecutors are seeking an 11-year prison term, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Albantov was convicted of first-degree sale of heroin and first-degree possession of 25 grams or more of heroin.
“This office, along with county attorneys throughout Minnesota, worked hard last year to get the Minnesota Legislature to go easier on people possessing and selling a small amount of drugs,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement following the conviction. “At the same time, we successfully argued for longer sentences for bigger dealers, and Mr. Albantov is a perfect example. We will be asking for a long prison term.”
Albantov’s conviction stems from an investigation that began last year when a Bloomington police officer spotted a man emerging from the bushes of a Bloomington hotel.
In May 2016, an officer patrolling the south parking lot of Extended Stay America, 7956 Lyndale Ave., spotted a 20-year-old Waubun, Minnesota, man emerging from the bushes near the building. He stopped to ask the man what he was doing, and the man said he had ducked between the bushes in order to urinate. During their conversation a 53-year-old woman approached the scene from a parked vehicle. The man attempted to pass a stun gun to the woman, but the officer interceded, according to Bloomington Police Cmdr. Kim Clauson.
The incident resulted in the police officers detaining the man and searching the parked vehicle with the woman’s consent, where a 46-year-old man was seated. Officers found suspected heroin in the vehicle, and all three people were arrested.
Following his arrest, the 20-year-old man told an officer that he had just purchased heroin from Albantov, according to a criminal complaint. A man matching Albantov’s description was found in the parking lot on the opposite side of the building, and officers asked him if he had been selling heroin at the hotel. Albantov became nervous, and a narcotics K-9 called to the scene indicated Albantov’s vehicle contained drugs, the complaint noted.
Albantov and a 21-year-old Newport woman who was with him were then arrested. Inside his vehicle officers found nearly 44 grams of heroin, a digital scale, hypodermic needles and a woman’s purse with a small amount of heroin inside, according to the complaint. Albantov was also in possession of more than $3,200 in cash, the county attorney’s office noted.
The identification in the purse was of a 21-year-old Bloomington woman. She was found walking blocks away and was arrested as well.
The final arrest was of a 25-year-old man who had been living at the hotel for approximately one month. Officers had identified a hotel room associated with the arrested parties, but there was no answer when they initially knocked at the door. A search warrant was obtained, and during its execution the 25-year-old man returned to the room. Inside the room, officers found suspected narcotics and drug paraphernalia, resulting in his arrest, according to Clauson.
Natalie Hersh, the 21-year-old Bloomington woman, pleaded guilty earlier this year to narcotics possession. She had less than one gram in her purse and was sentenced to three years of probation. Tysen Keezer, the 20-year-old Waubun man was found to have 1.7 grams in his vehicle and is in a diversion program, according to the county attorney’s office.