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Weed Operation Ran Out of Pizza Parlor by Man and Grandma Busted by Police

By Victoria Kim 04/20/15

Ryan Brooks was busted with his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend for using his pizza and ice cream parlor as a drug front.

Ryan Brooks
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Charges were filed on Friday against Ryan Brooks, of St. Paul, Minn., who ran a marijuana trafficking business out of an old pizza and ice cream parlor with the help of his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

The authorities received a tip from a “concerned citizen” in August 2014 that the business was a front. “On August 19, 2014, a concerned citizen made a report with the St. Paul Police Department that Papa Dimitri’s Classic Pizza and Ice Cream located at 466 Hamline Avenue South … is rarely open and does not seem to do much actual business,” said the criminal complaint.

The complaint against Brooks, who took over Papa Dimitri’s in 2010, led to an investigation.

Authorities discovered that the pizza parlor received $189,891.82 in cash deposits in its bank account between January 2013 and October 2014. An officer who worked at the Ramsey County Correction Facility told investigators that Brooks had allegedly admitted to using the pizza parlor to launder drug money, using “pizza boxes and bags to deliver marijuana under the guise of making pizza deliveries.”

Authorities found marijuana, cocaine, three handguns, and hollow-point bullets in the suspects’ homes. Brooks is charged with first-degree possession of cocaine, fifth-degree conspiracy to sell marijuana, concealing criminal proceeds, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person.

His mother, Rosalyn Brooks, 61, is charged with concealing criminal proceeds. His grandmother, Joyce. Merkley, 82, is charged with fifth-degree conspiracy to sell marijuana and fifth-degree possession of marijuana. Brooks’ girlfriend, Lena Kirk, 24, faces first-degree possession of cocaine, fifth-degree conspiracy to sell marijuana, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person.

This is not the first time Brooks has been busted for marijuana trafficking. In 2006, Brooks and his mother were arrested in Nebraska in a rental car with 107 pounds of marijuana in the trunk, on their way back to St. Paul from Las Vegas. Brooks served 90 days. His mother was not charged.

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