65 charged in statewide heroin trafficking bust

By KBJR News 1

April 17, 2014 Updated Apr 17, 2014 at 10:03 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A major blow was struck against heroin trafficking in the Twin Ports on Thursday.

A multi-agency drug investigation spearheaded by the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force into local trafficking has resulted in charges against 41 people in St. Louis County.

Dubbed "Operation Exile," the investigation cast a wide net, resulting in 150 warrants issued state wide.

At a news conference, U-S Attorney Andrew Luger announced prosecutors charged more than 65 heroin traffickers across Minnesota. He expects more arrests will be coming.

Lugar says the unprecedented effort is just the beginning.

"This is no ordinary drug bust. By the arrests we have made today, we have struck at the heart of the international cartels that bring heroin to Minnesota," Luger said.

The majority of the 65 people arrested in the operation Thursday were taken into custody in St. Louis County.

41 of them in the Twin Ports.

St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin joined Minnesota District U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger and other county attorneys and law enforcement officials from around the state in announcing the drug-busting operation.

“The ugly reality of the heroin use and trafficking in our area is not just the individual addictive nature of the drug, but the consequences – including increased property crimes and heightened dangers for children in homes where the drug is used,” Rubin said.

The drug being sold in Duluth is "brown heroin," usually produced in Mexico.

According to Rubin, heroin commands a higher price in the Northland than in larger cities because dealers know they run a greater risk of getting busted here.

Officials are also warning people on pain medication to use extra caution.

They say pain killer abuse is often the "gateway" to heroin abuse.

Elsa Robins