Drugs in the BWCA
What on earth? Can you believe it?
Agents discover $1M marijuana operation north of Hibbing
by Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio -September 16, 2009
Hibbing, Minn. — A Side Lake man has been charged with drug possession after law enforcement officials discovered a massive outdoor marijuana plot this Saturday.
Officers from the Boundary Waters Drug Task Force spotted the plot about 20 miles north of Hibbing during a helicopter flyover of the area. The plot contained about 1,325 six-foot-tall marijuana plants, with an estimated value over $1 million.
"Obviously, we got lucky on this one," said Detective Dennis Benz, who heads the task force. "It’s the biggest one that we know of, that we’ve come across."
Thorsten Gorham Otterness, 49, was arrested at the property later that evening. Otterness has a previous third-degree felony conviction for selling marijuana.
A police search revealed an extensive marijuana growing operation. A trailer house and a log cabin on the property had been used to grow, dry, and process the plant, police officials said. Police also discovered a loaded BB gun next to the trailer.
Otterness was charged with two counts of controlled substance crime in the first degree. He was also charged with possession of a prohibited firearm, as Otterness cannot own a gun due to his previous felony conviction.
If convicted, he faces up to 30 years on each drug count, and up to 15 years for illegal possession of a firearm.