BIG LAKE TOWNSHIP, Minn. -- A 5-month investigation by the Sherburne County Drug Task Force finished with the arrest of five men on Valentine's Day for First Degree Possession of Marijuana.
The Sherburne County Sheriff's Office arrested Felix Martinez-Garza, 41 of McAllen, Texas; Martin Garza, 40 of Texas; Israel Benavidez; 47 of Rio Grande, Texas; Cesar Valdez-Gonzalez, 46 of Rio Grande, Texas and John Wisdom, 27 of Hidalgo, Texas, for First Degree Possession of Marijuana. All the men have been charged.
According to Sheriff Joel Brott, the Sherburne County Drug Task Force, the Carver County Sheriff's Office and the Southwest Metro Drug Task Force concluded an investigation into a drug trafficking, transportation and distribution organization that originated in Texas and was responsible for bringing large amounts of marijuana into Minnesota.
Through their investigation, investigators were able to learn that the organization was using a residence in the 21000 block of Sherburne County Road 83, Big Lake Township, as a stash house to hold and distribute large amounts of Marijuana into the surrounding area.
Investigators learned that the suspects would then take the proceeds from the drug sales and purchase motor vehicles and then transport the motor vehicles back to Texas where the vehicles were sold.
On Feb. 11, investigators learned that the suspects were at the residence on County Road 83 and set up surveillance of the residence. They also followed the suspects as they visited used car lots.
On Feb. 14, investigators followed the suspects to the City of Rogers, where the suspects were joined by a semi tractor trailer with Texas license plates. The investigators followed the semi tractor trailer back to the residence on County Road 83, and once the suspects returned to the residence, a search warrant was executed on the residence.
All five individuals were taken into custody. Investigators seized approximately 313 pounds of marijuana with a street value of over $500,000. A small amount of cash was seized as well as a Lincoln Navigator and the semi tractor trailer.
All five individuals were arraigned in Sherburne County District Court for First Degree controlled substance crime of possession and First Degree controlled substance possession with the intent to sell.
Martinez-Garza is being held on $750,000 bail and Garza, Benavidez, Valdez-Gonzalez and Wisdom are all being held on $500,000 bail each.
Carver County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Blair Anderson states "The magnitude of this seizure is proof that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat narcotics trafficking. It is also proof of what can be accomplished through establishing and maintaining collaborative law enforcement partnerships."
In addition to the Carver County Sheriff's Office and the Southwest Metro Drug Task Force, the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the Minnesota State Patrol.
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