Posted by Brad Nicoski
In February, we told you about the multi-jurisdictional efforts to reduce the transport of illegal drugs on Minnesota Highways.
Had it not been for those efforts its unlikely last week's mega pot bust would have occurred.
Duluth is the northern outlet to a national drug pipeline that runs along Interstate 35 south to Texas.
For years state and local authorities trained in drug interdiction have worked to stem the flow of narcotics to the north.
"Parked along the freeway they watch vehicles looking for routine traffic violations and signs of illegal drug transport.
Last week a Minnesota state trooper stopped a motorist for a routine traffic stop and found drug paraphernalia.
Intelligence was also gathered and passed to local authorities.
Using that information Cloquet police set up an undercover sting operation involving the sale of drugs.
Officers during this transaction end up arresting some people..one ended up having a loaded gun didn't bring money to the transaction, but instead brought a loaded gun and a mask.
Those suspects provided information which lead to search warrants which ultimately helped to shut down a huge high tech indoor grow operation.
While no K-9 dogs were involved, they often play a role in the Minnesota State Patrol drug interdiction effort.
Informants, surveillance and technology to catch the bad guys continue to be the foundation of success for the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Taskforce.
Often times one of these case that start with one or two people can blossom into a 30 person conspiracy case in very short order...so we are always trying to look at the big picture.
Had it not been for an observant trooper making a routine traffic stop-the Chief says it's doubtful this high grade pot operation would have been uncovered.
"I would have to say it wouldn't, you know so that's a message for...ah...the cooperation between the agencies and also the just doing the day to day or routine or preventative policing...you never know what that traffic stop is going to uncover."
It's still not determined whether federal charges will be brought in connection with this latest bust.
According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, pot is the sixth largest cash crop in Minnesota.
Authorities say its likely there are more sophisticated indoor operations producing product for the Northland.