NEW HOPE, Minn. — Nearly 77,000 illegal vaping cartridges were seized from a home in Minnesota in what authorities said was the largest haul in the state’s history.
A drug task force discovered 76,972 cartridges loaded with illegal cannabis-derived THC oil Monday, Sept. 23 while executing a search warrant at a home in Coon Rapids, north of Minneapolis, said New Hope Police Chief Tim Fournier.
The cartridges were believed to have been manufactured out-of-state. Their total street value was up to $3.8 million, Fournier said.
A man was arrested and $23,000 in counterfeit dollars was found during the search, authorities said.
Charges against the man were pending Tuesday afternoon. Law enforcement officials did not discuss what led to Monday’s raid.
This, after Kansas Governor Laura Kelly Monday confirmed a second vaping-related death in the state, bringing the nationwide total to nine — two in California, two in Kansas, and one in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon. That’s out of 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes as of Sept. 17, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Tuesday, the governor of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s order appeared to be the first of its kind in the nation, though at least two states, Michigan and New York, have moved to ban vaping flavors. The temporary Massachusetts ban, though, would apply to all vaping products and devices. It must be approved by a health council that is nearly certain to do so.
Here in Wisconsin, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth on Sept. 11 announced the arrest of two brothers accused of operating an “empire of illegal drugs” in southeast Wisconsin. In all, authorities estimated they seized THC products with a street value of $1.5 million.
Charges were filed against Jacob Huffhines, 23, and Tyler Huffhines, 20, on Sept. 16.
Sheriff Beth said the operation allegedly run by the Huffhines was one largest drug operations of this type he’s seen in Kenosha County, and he believed it may be one of the largest in the country. Authorities went into two residences — one in Paddock Lake (where the Huffhines lived) and one in Bristol (where the alleged illegal operation was based).
In Paddock Lake, investigators found $59,000, eight firearms and ammunition, cocaine, marijuana, Xanax pills, cellphones, and much more.
The Bristol residence, a condo, was rented using a fake name. Sheriff Beth said in the condo, investigators found 31,200 vape cartridges already filled and ready to be shipped out. Each contained one gram of THC. They also found approximately 98,000 cartridges that were unfilled. Investigators also located 57 mason jars filled with THC oil — each jar was valued at roughly $6,000. In all, authorities estimated they seized THC products with a street value of $1.5 million.
FOX6 News reached out to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, who said they reached out to New Hope police and the Minnesota Department of Health to let them know there was a similar case here in the Badger State.
In a news advisory announcing the seizure in Minnesota Tuesday, officials said the following:
“Law enforcement and health officials are extremely concerned about the dangers of vaping. Hospitals across the country and here in Minnesota have recently reported hospitalizations and deaths linked to vaping. In some cases, patients reported vaping THC.”