Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- 30 people have been arrested in a massive drug bust by the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.
On Tuesday, Investigators from the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and the Duluth Police Department initiated the arrest phase of “Operation Crackdown”.
“Operation Crackdown” is a crack cocaine trafficking investigation focused in the Duluth-Superior area that was opened in May of 2012.
At this point in the operation, over 37 suspects have been identified and most of those suspects currently have outstanding warrants for their arrest. Many of the suspects in this investigation have significant criminal histories including offenses related to drug trafficking, weapon violations, assaults, and other violent crimes.
The suspects in this case were charged and will be prosecuted by the Saint Louis County Attorney’s Office.
Many of these defendants are facing multiple charges for the sale of crack cocaine that occurred both in the Cities of Duluth and Superior. Several defendants will be prosecuted in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for charges stemming from the operation.
During this investigation, task force investigators identified a unique trend in narcotics trafficking. Information obtained from confidential informants and other sources outlined a practice of trading EBT/SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cards in exchange for crack cocaine.
These trades were made at rates equal to approximately 50% of the face value of the card. Crack cocaine with a street value of approximately $100.00 was purchased with cards holding benefits equal to $200.00.
During one of the search warrants, officers allegedly found evidence that the suspect had flushed crack cocaine down the toilet upon realizing that officers were there. Despite this, heroin and cash was located and seized during the search.
Of additional concern was the seizure of two handguns from inside the residence. The two guns, one of which was loaded with ammunition, had been concealed above ceiling tiles in the residence. The suspect was lodged at the St. Louis County Jail for 1 count 2nd degree sale of controlled substance in a school zone and additional charges related to drug and firearms violations.
Investigators are continuing to search for at least 10 other suspects related to this investigation.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns