$4 million Hinckley-area pot growing operation destroyed; Mexican involvement suspected

Categories: Drugs
Talk about a buzzkill -- authorities plan to burn the more than 5,500 pot plants they seized yesterday (if they don't give the grass away to Occupy protesters first).
Some would say it's nothing to celebrate, but yesterday, law enforcement officials, including Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones, trumpeted the destruction of a $4 million-plus pot growing operation on patches of wooded land covering more than 40 acres on the Mille Lacs Reservation just east of Hinckley.

SEE ALSO: Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on prescription drugs, Mayo study finds

The DEA says more than 5,500 pot plants with a street value of $4.1 million were destroyed during a joint operation conducted around 3:30 a.m. yesterday by about 100 local, state, and federal officials.

According to the Star Tribune, no suspects were arrested during the raid, but officials believe at least six Mexican nationals were involved in the grow-op. The ownership status of the property wasn't immediately clear.

Tents, tarps, a small kitchen, and a rudimentary irrigation system were also found on the property.

Red Rock Radio reporter Jesse Logan accompanied law enforcement during the raid. He later told Fox 9 the grow-op appeared to be the work of professionals.

"They thinned out the trees in that area so that enough light would come in," Logan said. "They still had tree cover so that people couldn't see what was going on from above."

U.S. Attorney Jones told reporters that the focus of the bust was "to locate, document, and destroy these plants before they could be harvested and enter the illicit drug market." So if grass prices go up, you'll know who to blame.

Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole told Fox the scale of the grow operation was unlike anything he's seen.

"As far as outdoor goes, we find one once in a while -- nowhere near this size," he said.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.

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