Alleged marijuana ring-leader caught – and releasedPolice arrested the alleged ringleader of a widespread Northland marijuana-growing operation last Thursday. And then they released him last Friday.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Police arrested the alleged ringleader of a widespread Northland marijuana-growing operation last Thursday.
And then they released him last Friday.
Donald Foote, 40, of rural Duluth was arrested just before 10 a.m. in the 1700 block of Jefferson Street in Duluth after being stopped by a University of Minnesota Duluth officer, said Brad Wick, Duluth police information officer. He had been sought since the week before by a joint force of seven area law enforcement authorities that raided several Northland marijuana-growing operations, including two in Barnum Township.
Foote was spotted by a teller at Members Cooperative Credit Union, 215 N. 40th Ave. W., at 9:15 a.m., Wick said. Police were called and tellers tried to delay Foote, but he left before police arrived. A short time later, he was seen at the Hermantown Federal Credit Union, 2516 London Rd. Police converged on the area. The UMD officer spotted Foote’s vehicle on Jefferson Street and made a traffic stop.
Although Foote was arrested Thursday assuming charges would be filed, the case took another turn on Friday, according to St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Bruce Patterson.
“We released him because we’re going to send all the reports from [all the law enforcement agencies involved] to the U.S. Attorney’s office in St. Paul to determine whether to charge Foote under federal statutes,” he said this week. “It’s not novel to people in the business but for us it’s a little weird. We don’t normally practice catch-and-release around here.”
Patterson said likely it will be months before they will hear whether Foote and others involved will be charged federally.
One person was already charged in Carlton County Court: Craig Alan Modean, 34, of Barnum Township, for fifth-degree controlled substance. His next court appearance is set for April 28.
The operation Foote allegedly led used $100,000 in equipment and produced pot with a street value of $1 million in St. Louis and Carlton counties, police said. About 20 officers from seven law enforcement agencies conducted raids last week.
This week, officers also searched another home in Duluth at 103 65th Ave. W., where Foote was believed to be staying before his arrest. There, officers reported finding cash, firearms, computers and evidence of a past marijuana-growing operation.
Reporters at the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.