22 people arrested in Northland heroin sweepNortheastern Minnesota law enforcement has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of heroin being sold in the Twin Ports area, and on Wednesday the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force did something about it.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
Northeastern Minnesota law enforcement has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of heroin being sold in the Twin Ports area, and on Wednesday the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force did something about it.
Twenty-two people were taken into custody pending formal charges expected to be filed today in State District Court in Duluth.
“Operation Brownstone” — named after brown powder heroin, the type most seen in the Twin Ports — was a concentrated effort by the task force; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; and Duluth police to combat the increase in heroin trafficking and abuse being seen here. All of the arrests were in Duluth, except for one in Cloquet.
Police anticipated making more arrests Wednesday night.
Duluth police Sgt. Rodney Wilson, a member of the task force, said the sting has been planned for about six months.
“Over the last year, not just in the Twin Ports, but statewide we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of heroin that’s being sold,” Wilson said. “There’s also been a huge increase in the amount of overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal.”
The task force was recently honored by the Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators in recognition of their contributions to Minnesota drug enforcement. The association cited the success the task force had in targeting and slowing the trafficking of prescription pain killers, marijuana and firearms in the Twin Ports.
Twenty-seven people were indicted in U.S. District Court in connection with an earlier task force operation targeting prescription opiates.
While working the prescription pill operation, code named “Pills in a Box,” investigators observed a sharp increase in the availability and trafficking of heroin in the Twin Ports.
“We’re seeing an increase in heroin because of the lack of prescription painkillers. The painkillers aren’t as easy to get as they once were,” Wilson said.
The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force is composed of members of the Duluth, Superior and Cloquet police departments and the St. Louis, Carlton and Lake County sheriff’s offices.