Judge issues warrant after man charged with possessing more than 44K fentanyl pills misses hearing

Published 4:19 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

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A Freeborn County District Court judge issued a bench warrant Thursday for one of two men charged last month with possessing more than 44,000 pills containing fentanyl after he failed to appear for a hearing.

Cortez Ananias Williams, 23, of Minneapolis, had appeared for two hearings thus far since he was arrested, including one while in custody Feb. 15 and a second hearing held remotely Feb. 23.

Judge Christy Hormann said Williams was notified at the most recent hearing of his next date to appear and that it would be an in-person hearing.

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In addition to issuing the warrant, Hormann said Williams’ previously posted bond would be forfeited after he did not appear in court. Online court records show Williams posted a $250,000 bond on Feb. 16.

Williams faces two counts of aggravated first-degree controlled substance crimes after authorities say he and Savontray Orlando Dwayne Collins, 23, also of Minneapolis, were found during a traffic stop with pills they had brought back to the state from California. Collins also faces one count of the same charge.

Court documents state the two men were arrested after an undercover Hennepin County investigator assigned to the Violent Offender Task Force received information that Williams would be returning to Minnesota by car from a narcotics trafficking trip to Los Angeles.

Investigators tracked the rental car the men were driving by electronic surveillance and ultimately stopped the vehicle in Freeborn County.

A search of the vehicle found suitcases in the trunk that matched suitcases the two men had been seen pulling in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport at the end of January. One contained about 1,106 grams of pills that field-tested positive for fentanyl and about 995 grams that tested positive as containing cocaine. A second suitcase contained about 2,228 grams of pills that-field tested positive for fentanyl.

Investigators estimate by weight that the total number of pills exceeded 44,000.

At his first court hearing, Williams said he had never violated any conditions during his previous charges and had never missed court dates.

When Hormann set unconditional bail for both men at $500,000 and conditional bail at $250,000, she said she was worried about the men’s lack of ties to Freeborn County.

Williams has previous convictions for third-degree burglary in 2021 and second-degree manslaughter in 2017.