KSTP News reports that law enforcement officials say that they have touched on the heart of an international drug cartel that is trafficking heroin into Minnesota.
It is hard to overstate the toll that the drug has taken in Minnesota. It has been cited in the news recently that heroin is being found more and more in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and that heroin-related drug charges are on the rise. Also on the rise are heroin-related deaths.
Officials hope that the massive operation that occurred on April 17 will help turn the tide in the fight against the drug, thus saving lives and the futures of those who find themselves defending against heroin offenses in Minnesota.
The main objective of Operation Exile was to get heroin off of the streets. From this point, law enforcement is going to attack the organizations and do everything possible to dismantle and disrupt them so that the drug does not spread as quickly on Minnesota’s streets. The preparation for the operation took two weeks. The raids themselves took one day. By Thursday afternoon, Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies had arrested 65 individuals in seven counties and took possession of nearly five pounds of heroin, along with $250,000 in cash and seven firearms.
Inside the Minneapolis police Department’s property and evidence units, there was heroin in over 120 bags. All of those have been seized so far in 2014. Operation Exile went after the supply chain that brought those bags of heroin to Minneapolis and this supply chain stretches from South American into Mexico where the drug cartels then cross the border to move north in the U.S.
Law enforcement recognizes that heroin in Minnesota cannot be eradicated through arrests alone. However, getting individuals the help they need can reduce the appeal of the area to the drug cartels. At the same time, law enforcement is searching high and low for those they believe are supplying heroin to the state and they are arresting them.
As for who contributed to Operation Exile, they were all federal, state, and local agencies that coordinated their efforts and shared information that led to the busts. The DEA, ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals, ICE, and the Bureau of Criminal of Apprehension, along with agencies in Ramsey, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmstead, St. Louis, and Washington Counties were involved.
Earlier this year, health officials in Minnesota said that nearly 300 people had died in heroin-related deaths over the past 15 years. One-third of those deaths occurred last year alone.
It is expected that more charges will stem from the arrests that occurred and that more operations will take place aimed toward stopping the trafficking of heroin into the Twin Cities and the remainder of Minnesota.