Feds bust Stillwater prison meth ring, indict inmate and guard

Stone sign outside Stillwater prison.
Guard towers and fencing surround the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater in 2019.
John Minchillo | AP file

A 24-year-old guard at the state prison in Stillwater faces charges for allegedly smuggling methamphetamine into the facility as part of a drug ring there.

Faith Rose Gratz has been indicted by a federal grand jury for drug possession and distribution. The indictment alleges she got into a romantic relationship with a prisoner at the Minnesota Correctional Facility - Stillwater, 34-year-old Axel Rene Kramer, who is serving a 24-year sentence for a murder near Windom in 2007. Evidence in the case indicated they had discussed getting married after he was released, federal officials said.

The indictment alleges Gratz smuggled cell phones into the prison and that Kramer made arrangements for her to pick up packages of drugs, then smuggle them past security for distribution in the prison. Gratz allegedly also used a phone to warn Kramer if his cell was to be searched, giving him the opportunity to hide phones and any other contraband from prison authorities.

Authorities eventually discovered one of Kramer's phones, linked it to Gratz, and confronted her. The indictment says authorities found a half-pound of meth in her car parked in the prison parking lot on April 8, shortly after Gratz had allegedly made contact with a supplier, arranged by Kramer and another, unnamed inmate.

Kramer also faces a single count of conspiracy to distribute drugs. Neither he nor Gratz have yet made a court appearance.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.