A Minnesota State Patrol trooper making a recent traffic stop along Interstate 94 in western Minnesota uncovered $1.75 million in high-grade marijuana, leading to felony charges against three St. Paul men.
It was one of the largest seizures of marijuana in the State Patrol’s history.
The 570 pounds of marijuana, likely on its way to the Twin Cities, was shrink-wrapped and stacked inside 18 large duffel bags in the bed of a pickup truck. When investigators unloaded it, the 1¼-pound packages of pot stacked nearly 7 feet high and 10 feet wide.
“It’s not an everyday find during a traffic stop here in Otter Tail County,” said Assistant County Attorney Ryan Cheshire.
The driver of the truck, Vontrail Dante Kendle, 32, along with Michael Corey Dunnorm, 23, and Anthony Pillar Williams, 21, were each charged with possessing 50 kilograms or more of marijuana and remain in Otter Tail County jail.
According to the criminal complaint, trooper Aaron Myren stopped a white Ford F-150 about 3 p.m. on March 1. The license plates on both the front and back of the truck were obstructed by brackets and other objects.
Kendle told the trooper that they picked up the truck in California from his in-laws and he was driving it home. Kendle said he flew to California and stayed a couple of days before they began driving back to Minnesota. He said they stopped at a motel along the way to get some rest.
When asked why he chose to take I-94 back to Minnesota, Kendle told the trooper he was using a GPS and it was the quickest route. The trooper knew that I-94 isn’t the quickest route from California to the Twin Cities. The trooper said Kendle also gave conflicting information regarding his travel timeline.
The trooper said the other two men also provided conflicting information.
“None of their individual stories matched regarding days spent traveling and stops made along the way,” according to the criminal complaint.
The marijuana haul was later discovered after the vehicle was towed and searched.
Cheshire said the vehicle had California plates but it’s unclear where the men actually picked up the high-grade marijuana.
The men are due back in court later this month.