Dozens charged in drug operation stretching across Minnesota

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — More than three dozen people have been charged in St. Louis County in connection with a Chicago-based drug trafficking ring that operated throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, authorities said.

Duluth police said Thursday that this week's coordinated drug bust led to 35 arrests in Minnesota — from Rochester in the southern part of the state to the Iron Range in the north. An additional five men in state prisons were also charged, and more arrests are possible.

Police said they seized roughly 1,207 grams of meth and 527 grams of heroin and fentanyl. They estimated that the operation sold more than $1 million of opioids, meth and cocaine so far this year, the Star Tribune reported.

According to a criminal complaint for the alleged leader of the local organization, the trafficking group was tied to a Chicago-based gang and the members “conspired to make their mixtures of heroin and fentanyl stronger, to make it more appealing to their consumer base, and make it stronger than what their competition is selling.”

St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said all cases are being prosecuted in the state court at this time, though federal charges are possible.