MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities mother involved in one of Detective Travis Serafin’s most high profile cases is speaking out.
Serafin served on the drug task force that put Beverly Burrell in prison for selling fentanyl-laced heroin. Police say the drugs killed at least five people.
WCCO talked to the family of one of her victims now wondering what this might mean for the justice they fought so hard for.
Colleen Ronnei is coming to Serafin’s defense to say this only speaks to a lack of manpower and resources for police to put drug dealers in prison. Coincidentally, the news comes just as the Ronneis are releasing a new drug documentary to Minnesota schools that features Serafin. The documentary shares the stories of an opioid epidemic crippling the state.
“We’re having more deaths, more overdoses because it’s so potent,” said Serafin in the film.
Colleen Ronnei is on a mission now to educate other kids after she lost her son Luke to a heroin overdose two years ago.
“No one ever would have believed three years ago, two years ago that Travis and I would be at the same side of the table,” Ronnei said.
She went to Eden Prairie police with information on her son’s dealer months before a bad batch killed him. Serafin was on the team that worked the case.
“He’s a really good person, and he made a really awful mistake,” Ronnei said.
In the years since, Ronnei says she has learned the ripples of such an investigation, the complexities of gathering evidence and the strenuous work to get dealers off the streets in often under-staffed departments.
“I’m sad for everybody,” she said.
Ronnei called what happened Friday unfortunate on all levels, from police to prosecutors.
“It seems to me, and this is my perspective, a lot of these drug dealers have more rights than the victims,” she said.
Ronnei is focused now on finding money to do more in the prevention fight.
“It can effect getting accepted into colleges, your life, the type of job you’re going to have where you’re going to be able to work and your future,” Serafin said.
She says it’s a fight Serafin believed in before a falsified search warrant called his career into question.
“I think that when police officers are doing their best to really keep more people from dying, mistakes get made,” Ronnei said.
Burrell has been convicted of murder in three cases, of which WCCO-TV is told Serafin played more of a peripheral role. She is set to stand trial in two more.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office told us they have no reason to believe anything was improper in Burrell’s case, and they believe the convictions will stand.