UPDATE: Rochester heroin bust was part of statewide sting - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Rochester heroin bust was part of statewide sting

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Two alleged drug dealers arrested Wednesday in Rochester were part of a much larger operation believed to include 65 suspected heroin traffickers arrested statewide as part of "Operation Exile."

Rochester police said Shaunda Genene Gadsden, 32, is facing two counts of first-degree sale of a controlled substance, while 29-year-old Martinez Jaton Williams is facing four counts.

The bust took place at a home Wednesday on the 1100 block of Fourth Street Southeast, which is across the street from Saint Francis of Assisi School.

According to the criminal complaint, Williams and Gadsden sold heroin to a police informant four separate times since March 26th. On Wednesday morning, the informant purchased an ounce of heroin - $2,500 worth - as police watched from the gas station down the street.

Rochester Police Capt. John Sherwin said within the last year and a half, heroin use has grown substantially in Rochester.

"We did participate in the statewide effort, and we made some arrests in conjunction with that," Sherwin said. "But just because there's a statewide initiative that makes big announcements one day, that doesn't mean that we're not investigating drug cases and trying to target heroin dealers everyday."

Seven counties were involved in the sting, which the DEA is calling "Operation Exile." Federal prosecutors and county attorneys said Thursday the crackdown launched this week has led to more than 65 arrests and the seizure of more than $250,000 in cash.

Earlier this year, Minnesota health officials said nearly 300 people have died in heroin-related deaths in the past 15 years.

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