$5 million marijuana bust near Hinckley, Minn. - KMSP-TV

$5 million marijuana bust near Hinckley, Minn.

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An estimated $5 million marijuana growing operation was raided early Wednesday morning near Hinckley, Minn.

The search warrant was executed by the Pine County Sheriff's Office and East Central Drug Task Force. An estimated 10,000 marijuana plants were seized in the bust, in a densely wooded area on the Mile Lacs Reservation just east of Hinckley.

Investigators must dig up all of the plants by hand to preserve the evidence. Watch video of a truckload of marijuana plants being hauled away at http://instagram.com/p/cKXZh6vY9G/#

The raid was first reported by WCMP Radio, which accompanied deputies and task force officers Wednesday morning. WCMP reporter Jesse Logan told FOX 9 the average size of the pot plants he observed were about four feet tall.

"They thinned out the trees in that area so that enough light would come in," Logan said. "They still had tree cover so that people couldn't see what was going on from above."

The marijuana seized was previously reported to have a street value of up to $7 million, but that figure was reduced as evidence was collected and measured. All the uprooted plants will be dried and eventually incinerated.

It's not usual to find marijuana growing operations in rural parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, but authorities say the Pine County bust showed sophistication. Typically, marijuana is measured in kilos but there were so many plants that DEA agents had to use a 10-ton dump truck to remove them all.

"As far as outdoor goes, we find one once in a while -- nowhere near this size," Pine county Sheriff Robin Cole told FOX 9 News.

If you have information about any illegal drug activity, gang activity or other violent offender activity, call the East Central Drug and Violent Offenders Task Force at 320-566-4153.

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