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Emily Welker, Published November 06 2013

VIDEO: 3 people arrested near Fargo elementary school on drug, child endangerment charges

FARGO – Police arrested three people Wednesday morning near a south Fargo elementary school on suspicion of drug dealing and child endangerment after a search warrant uncovered a baby lying within arm’s reach of illicit prescription drugs, and methamphetamines were in a nearby pile of children’s clothing next to a bag of Halloween candy.

Two of the three children in the home – whose ages are 7, 4 and less than a year old – were placed into immediate protective custody, said police Lt. Joel Vettel.

A fourth child might have been at school at the time, Vettel said, although he would not say what school the child attends.

The apartment where the search warrant was executed, 111 18th St. S., is within 500 feet of Jefferson Elementary School.

Brandon Daniel Wahl, 29, and Tawni Lee Johnson, 26, both of Fargo, are being held on suspicion of child neglect or endangerment, and several drug charges, including dealing methamphetamines within 1,000 feet of a school. Brady Allen Swanson, 25, also of Fargo, is being held on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Information that led to the search warrant came in from a resident concerned about the unusual number of people coming and going from the area, Vettel said.

The apartment search uncovered 11 grams of methamphetamine, which is dealer quantity, he said.

Vettel said the case illustrates why Fargo police reject criticism from people who say drug cases should not be pursued aggressively.

“This is a perfect example of why we feel it is not a victimless crime,” he said.

Vettel called the case “shocking to the conscience” and “appalling,” particularly the close proximity of the hydrocodone to the baby. “Small children put everything in their mouths.”

He did not give details on the physical condition of the children but said, “Anytime there are drugs present along with children, that speaks volumes about the quality of life in that home.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541