Drug bust follows high-speed chase

by Tom Coombe

It started as little more than a routine traffic stop.<BR><BR>It quickly escalated into a chase that extended outside of Ely, through Babbitt and Embarrass, with speeds topping 120 miles per hour.<BR><BR>And by the time it was done, the result was an arrest of an Ely man and the filing of several felony drug charges.<BR><BR>Franklin Alan Miller, 29, is accused of four controlled substance crimes - all connected with the illegal possession and sale of methamphetamine and cocaine.<BR><BR>Miller was arrested the morning of June 27, at the intersection of Highway 21 and 169, after allegedly leading authorities on a high-speed chase that began in Ely.<BR><BR>According to the criminal complaint filed in district court, Miller had over $800 in cash and plastic bags containing methamphetamine in his possession at the time of the arrest.<BR><BR>A subsequent search of his vehicle, and his home at 30 East Conan, recovered over $5,000, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, and papers showing ‘buy lists’ indicating money owed, the cost of product, money received and profits.<BR><BR>Authorities also say that Miller, during the course of the chase, threw several items out of the driver’s side window.<BR><BR>St. Louis County Sheriff’s deputies later found several plastic bags on the shoulder of the roadway. Tests showed that the bags contained methamphetamine and cocaine.<BR><BR>Miller, who was arrested and taken to the county lock-up in Virginia, was charged with:<BR><BR>• Two fourth-degree controlled substance crimes, the sale of methamphetamine and sale of cocaine, which both carry maximum sentences of 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine;<BR><BR>• Two fifth-degree controlled substance crimes, the possession of methamphetamine and cocaine, which both carry maximums of five years and $10,000;<BR><BR>• Fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, with a maximum of three years and $5,000.<BR><BR>The criminal complaint, which was released by the Ely Police Department, revealed the details of the activity - including the particulars of the high-speed chase - that led to Miller’s arrest.<BR><BR>At approximately 2:40 a.m., Ely police officer John Lahtonen observed a vehicle turn from First Avenue East into the alley between Conan and White streets.<BR><BR>The vehicle, which was moving at a slow rate of speed, then turned right on to Second Avenue East. Lahtonen caught up with the vehicle, at the intersection of Second Avenue and Boundary Street, at which time the vehicle allegedly accelerated to a high rate of speed. Police say the driver temporarily lost control of the vehicle and slid sideways on the street.<BR><BR>Lahtonen activated the red lights on the Ely squad car and began pursuit, and Miller allegedly made a sharp turn onto Highway 21, again sliding sideways before regaining control and heading toward Babbitt.<BR><BR>Babbitt police were alerted of the chase, but Miller allegedly drove around the Babbitt squad car before police could deploy stop sticks.<BR><BR>The pursuit then continued on Highway 21, toward Embarrass, and Miller allegedly used the entire roadway, from fogline to fogline and topped 120 miles per hour.<BR><BR>After the vehicle passed through Embarrass, Babbitt police said they observed Miller tossing items from his car window. Some of the items hit the Babbitt squad car’s windshield.<BR><BR>Near the intersection of Lax Road and Highway 21, county sheriff’s deputies utilized stop sticks to deflate the front tires of Miller’s vehicle. The vehicle pulled over into a parking lot at the intersection of Highway 21 and 169.<BR><BR>Miller was arrested and a license check indicated that his driving privileges were under revocation for no proof of insurance.<BR><BR>Miller was found to have $839 in cash in his possession and inside his vehicle was a plastic container that included plastic bags, a measuring cup and a quantity of crystal-like powder that was found to be methamphetamine.<BR><BR>Authorities later conducted a search of his Conan Street home and his vehicle, and found $5,731 in cash, papers indicating drug debts and money received, and both drugs and paraphernalia.