Posted at: 04/17/2014 10:50 PM
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- With heroin overdoses on the rise in Minnesota, law enforcement officials announced Thursday they’ve taken a major step to end the flow of drugs, and end the rising death toll.
It was called "Operation Exile," a sweeping drug bust targeting major heroin traffickers in Minnesota.
"Today we have made it clear to those who want to sell heroin, this deadly powder in Minnesota, that we will stop them,” said Andrew Luger, U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. “Make no mistake about it, heroin is deadly, and we will not tolerate it in Minnesota."
In an operation that spanned seven counties, officials arrested 65 people and seized around 2.5 kilograms of heroin.
They also seized seven firearms and $250,000 in cash that they say came directly from heroin sales.
Of the those 65 arrested, two are from Rochester.
Police arrested 32-year-old Shaunda Gadsden and 29-year-old Martinez Williams following four drug buys that authorities set up over the course of a month.
Police say they bought more than $5,000 worth of heroin during those operations.
"I'm glad to see that we've got a couple people in custody that have been moving a significant amount of heroin in the community,” said Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem. “I'm very hopeful that law enforcement is on the trail to find out how it's getting to our community."
At Thursday's new conference, officials made it clear they want not only to take dealers off the streets, but to target the heart of criminal organizations.
"We're going to attack these organizations and do everything in our power to disrupt and dismantle them so they can't spread the poison on the streets of Minnesota,” said Jack Riley, a special agent with the national Drug Enforcement Agency.
Authorities say the operation took weeks to put together, coordinating state, local and federal agencies.
But those arrest and seizure totals are only expected to climb as officials said they'll be following up on leads and working to dismantle the drug networks even further.