Police Arrest 11, Charge 14 For Crack At Champions Bar And Grill

The bar has long been known as a neighborhood trouble spot.

This is not how a business likes to get in the news.

Monday afternoon, Minneapolis Police announced they had charged 14 people with dealing narcotics in connection with a six month-long undercover investigation into drug deals at Champions Bar and Grill in Lyndale. 11 are currently under arrest, and three have warrants issued for their arrest.

“When incidents of narcotics trafficking surrounding a particular business are reported to us again and again we are compelled to use whatever means the law allows to stop this activity,” said Inspector Matt Clark, head of the Fifth Precinct, which covers Southwest Minneapolis.

Champions has long been seen as a problem business by some neighbors. In 2007, the bar shut down for several weeks as owners, supporters, angry neighbors, and city officials sorted out a way to deal with drugs being sold at the bar. At the time, the Southwest Journal quoted owner Rick Nelson as saying he had spent "thousands" of dollars on security at the bar in an attempt to keep out drug dealers and troublemakers.

According to Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Sgt. William Palmer, officers in the investigation made five narcotics purchases inside the bar, seven purchases that started at the bar but were completed elsewhere, and six purchases from the bus stops and sidewalks outside the bar. Palmer also said police investigated a report of marijuana being smoked on the bar's patio. According to the criminal complaints (available at right) filed against the 14 defendants, officers bought between 0.1 and 0.2 grams of crack cocaine from each defendant.

The police began their investigation after hearing numerous complaints from neighbors, Palmer said. Palmer couldn't confirm if all the people charged in the case were known to police as persistent troublemakers or dangerous individuals, but said that at least one was "known to officers."

"It's tough to know" if neighborhood complaints about Champions patrons will go down, Palmer said. "We hope the word gets out quickly that Champions is not a good place to do business, at least for a while."


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