$1 million Northland marijuana ring bustedIt may have been built as a residential home, but the home at 3757 County Road 11 in Barnum Township was uninhabitable, according to documents filed in Carlton County Court last week.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
It may have been built as a residential home, but the home at 3757 County Road 11 in Barnum Township was uninhabitable, according to documents filed in Carlton County Court last week.
“I was told the house was hollowed out and marijuana plants and growing equipment encompassed the entire home,” said Michael Boese, assistant county attorney.
On March 25, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies found an indoor hydroponic marijuana growing operation at the residence with 325 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and 2 pounds of the processed drug. It was reportedly a sophisticated system with everything from the air, temperature, lighting and watering controlled by timers.
The search was just one of five in the Northland over a 48-hour period late last week which yielded a total of 927 high-grade marijuana plants, 22 pounds of processed marijuana and numerous handguns and long guns.
“It was elaborate,” Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande said of the operations found in four homes, one in Barnum Township, one in Proctor and two in Fredenberg Township near Duluth.
Lamirande, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Lt. Bruce Patterson said it was the largest combined marijuana bust ever in their jurisdictions. About 20 officers from seven law enforcement agencies assisted in executing the five search warrants. Joining forces were Cloquet, Esko and Proctor police, Carlton and St. Louis County sheriff’s offices, Minnesota State Patrol and the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force.
Officials said more than $100,000 in equipment was invested in the ring and the marijuana was valued at $1 million based on what the plants would yield and on the expected THC [Tetrahydrocannabinol] content – the main psychoactive substance found in the plants.
The man at the center of the investigation, David Donald Foote, 40, is wanted by law enforcement officials as the alleged ring leader. He is listed as the owner of all of the residences plus an additional one in Barnum Township where Craig Alan Modean, 34, was arrested last Thursday in connection with the ring.
Modean was charged with one count of felony fifth-degree possession of marijuana in Carlton County Court last Friday and posted $4,000 bail the same day. His next court appearance is April 5.
Charges are also possible against a man who was living at the home in Proctor, in which 46 plants and 6 pounds of the processed drug were found. He may have been in the process of purchasing the home from Foote, according to Lamirande.
Foote’s vehicle was found abandoned by Duluth Police on Saturday and officials said Tuesday they believe he has cleared out at least one of his bank accounts, has a gun and may have left the area.
“We are still actively pursuing leads,” said Lt. Rick Lake of the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement officials were reportedly meeting late Wednesday to determine whether federal charges are warranted.
Foote’s ties to the area go back to at least 1995 when he was reportedly living in Ely, Minn. He has been linked to numerous addresses in the Duluth and Superior areas since then and was convicted in Carlton County in 2005 of petty misdemeanor sale of a small amount of marijuana.
The investigation began after a traffic stop made by a Minnesota State Patrol officer in Carlton County. Information from that stop led to a home in the Esko area which eventually led to Foote and a search of his area homes.
Anyone with information on Foote’s whereabouts is asked to call 911. He’s described as 5 foot 7 inches, 135 pounds with reddish brown hair and blue eyes.
Duluth News Tribune reporter Mark Stodghill contributed to this story.