Authorities raid pot-growing operation near Hinckley

Published 10:43 am Thursday, July 25, 2013

HINCKLEY — Federal, state and local law officers seized thousands of marijuana plants from an eastern Minnesota field on Wednesday that they say would have had an estimated street value of more than $4 million, once harvested and sold.

Agents executed a search warrant on a parcel of land near Hinckley, about 80 miles northeast of Minneapolis.

More than 5,500 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of more than $4.1 million were seized, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a news release. Video footage on KSTP-TV showed officers piling tall, green marijuana plants into the back of a dump truck.

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“The focus of today’s effort was to locate, document and destroy these plants before they could be harvested and enter the illicit drug market,” B. Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, said in the statement.

The DEA did not mention whether any arrests had been made or would be made in connection with the raid.

Jones announced the raid along with Jack Riley, special agent-in-charge of the DEA’s five-state region that includes Minnesota.

“Dismantling criminal operations, like the one responsible for this marijuana, is a priority for the DEA,” Riley said in the news release.

Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole said the marijuana was spread in patches over 40 acres. He wouldn’t say whether the land was public or privately owned.

In addition to the DEA, other agencies taking part in the raid included the East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force, the sheriff’s offices from Pine, Chisago and Isanti counties, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Army National Guard, the U.S. Forestry Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.