Two men were arrested Thursday following the largest drug bust ever made in Duluth.
Investigators seized about 4.3 pounds of heroin with an estimated street value of $350,000, as well as a half-pound of cocaine, a loaded gun and more than $94,600 in cash.
The heroin amounts to more than 22,000 doses.
Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force officers arrested Otis Jason Weaver, 39, and Eric Antione Black, 36, on Thursday after executing search warrants at an apartment on the 1500 block of Kenwood Avenue and a hotel room on the 200 block of West First Street.
At the time of his arrest, Black was out on bail, awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge in Chicago.
“Because of their expert investigations and relentless work, the (task force) is removing the poisons from our streets that are peddled to our citizens. We’re spending a tremendous amount of effort in going after those who sell these poisons to remove the supply from our community,” Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said in a written statement.
At a press conference Monday, he made clear that going after the drug supply is only one part of the solution to the “scourge” of opioid addiction.
“This is not a problem we can arrest our way out of,” he said. “We certainly are taking a three-pronged approach of doing education, prevention and enforcement.”
Jeff Kazel, commander of the task force, said the seizure would “greatly affect those who are suffering from addiction” and urged those who need help to call the city’s opioid hotline at 218-730-4009.
The arrests on Thursday followed a two-month investigation that involved a number of “controlled buys” from Black and Weaver, according to charges. When investigators searched Weaver at a downtown Duluth hotel, they reported finding more than $2,000 in cash and more than 14 grams of heroin in his pocket.
Black, whom charging documents identify as Weaver’s supplier, was at Weaver’s residence on Kenwood when it was searched. There investigators say they found a duffel bag full of heroin next to a .40-caliber Glock handgun with hollow-point ammunition and more than $92,000 in cash.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson applauded the investigators’ efforts and their work toward “outreach, education and treatment resources to get people suffering from addiction what they need,” she said in a statement. “I stand with our entire community in our shared commitment to continue to tackle this problem head on.”