BROOKINGS – A Brookings man has admitted to distributing methamphetamine to a minor near local schools last fall.
Aaron Aspon, 35, pleaded guilty in Brookings County Circuit Court on Tuesday to two felony counts: distribution of methamphetamine to a minor and violating a drug-free zone. Four other felony drug charges were dismissed.
Aspon is facing a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a possible maximum of 35 years in prison at sentencing June 18.
Brookings County State’s Attorney Dan Nelson said Aspon was distributing a large quantity of meth from an apartment complex in the 700 block of Brooklawn Drive, within 1,000 feet of Medary Elementary School and Brookings High School property.
“The Brookings Police Department along with local law enforcement partners conducted an extensive two-week investigation that revealed Mr. Aspon selling meth to minors in an apartment complex located next to the elementary school in the City of Brookings.”
Nelson said he chose to pursue mandatory minimum convictions “because Mr. Aspon profited from the selling of meth to children in our community. This conduct must be met with a stiff penalty. After today’s guilty pleas, our community and children are safer with Mr. Aspon off the street.”
“I believe this prosecution sends a strong message to the drug dealers of Brookings and the greater Brookings County area, and that message is this: The Brookings Police Department, the Brookings County Sheriff’s Office, the Division of Criminal Investigation as well as our other local law enforcement partners will find you if you are dealing drugs here, and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law,” Nelson continued. “You may think you can continue to operate and subvert our law enforcement protection, but you are wrong in that thought.”
Brookings Police Chief Dave Erickson said this year the department has dedicated a detective to work solely on drug crimes “to stem the tide of drugs being sold in our community.”
Erickson said the department has also created a Criminal Interdiction Unit “and is continuing efforts to be proactive in the area of drug enforcement.”
Nelson said officials believe Aspon was obtaining his methamphetamine from outside Brookings County, and he was distributing the drug here alone.
Nelson said the investigation revealed that Aspon was targeting teenagers, and a few of those teens ended up in the local criminal justice system due to possession and use of meth. “So he was a high-value target for us because of the things he was doing to juveniles in the community.”
Related to this investigation, Aspon was selling meth in Brookings for several months, Nelson said. Aspon pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing to one minor on Sept. 13, 2018, but officials have evidence that he distributed to at least three minors.
Erickson said methamphetamine is a pressing concern in Brookings.
“We enjoy a safe community … but that’s why we’re staying proactive, so we don’t get to that position where we’re fighting a catch-up kind of battle. We want to stay proactive and stay ahead of it,” Erickson said.
He added, “We still need the help of the community. We need the help of parents, having that guidance and that oversight with their children, to help them make right decisions and help us in the enforcement of drug laws in our community.”
Aspon remains in the Brookings County Detention Center until sentencing next month.
Contact Jill Fier at [email protected].
Below: Photos of evidence from the case State of South Dakota vs. Aaron Aspon.