VERNON COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - A Stoddard man is facing charges for what is being called a 'very sophisticated' marijuana growing operation.
The Vernon County Sheriff's Department arrested 56-year-old Steven Miller. Investigators said Miller was growing marijuana in a cabin near Hayward, Wisconsin, then transporting and distributing the product from his home just outside Stoddard.
A two-month investigation confirmed Miller was indeed growing marijuana in Sawyer County.
On Friday both his Stoddard home and Hayward cabin were searched; police discovered approximately 67 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and very detailed growing charts as to the progress of the plants.
The Vernon County sheriff says one of his biggest concerns isn't the marijuana, though, it's whose hands it may have ended up in.
Just outside the quiet Village of Stoddard sits a shed.
"It was a tougher one to search because of the incredible amount of items outside as well as inside the shop," Vernon County Sheriff John Spears said.
Spears said Miller lived in the shed and used it to distribute his product.
"At his residence here in Vernon County we did locate pounds of processed marijuana. Some of it was already vacuum sealed for distribution in various weights and there was also some being processed," Spears said.
Spears said the Vernon County Sheriffs department has begun conducting interviews and following potential leads, some leading them to local high school students.
"One of the more disturbing elements to this investigation was that we have reason to believe that some of this marijuana that was brought back to Vernon County for distribution did find its way into local schools."
Spears said the schools involved are cooperating.
"Some students have been interviewed in local schools in connection with this and again that's ongoing as well."
Investigators believe others are involved in the distribution of marijuana from this operation, which could span across Wisconsin.
Spears said the Vernon County Sheriff Department has seen bigger operations in the past, but none quite this impressive.
"He had obviously been doing this for a little while, just because of the sophistication of his indoor grow. It's one of those, it sounds bad, but for all practical purposes, he's probably very proud of what he's built. It was a very sophisticated indoor grow operation," he said.
Spears said charges are still being filed but he expects multiple counts of manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance. There were multiple weapons, a loaded handgun and a fairly large amount of cash also found during the search, according to Spears.
Spears expects to have a handle on how far the marijuana has reached within the next week or so.
If you have any information you're asked to contact the Vernon County Sheriff's Department at 608-637-2123.
A 56-year-old Stoddard man was arrested after authorities discovered a 'sophisticated' marijuana manufacturing and trafficking operation at a house near Hayward and properties in Stoddard.
The Vernon County Sheriff's department said investigators discovered an indoor hydroponic marijuana grow site with about 67 plants in various stages of growth at a house near Hayward owned by Steven Miller. At the Stoddard site, investigators discovered processed marijuana that had originated from the Sawyer County site, along with guns and cash.
The Sheriff's Department received information related to drug trafficking involving high school students, which led to a house near Hayward. Miller was arrested in Stoddard.
Search warrants were executed at the various locations on Friday, May 2. Vernon County Sheriff John Spears said investigators continue to pursue leads developing during Friday's searches. He said at least two more Wisconsin counties have been linked to this case and more arrests are likely.
Investigators have interviewed several high school students who may be involved in this case. The investigation into this case was two months long, and included investigators and agents from the the Vernon County Sheriff's Office, the Sawyer County Sheriff's Office, the Division of Criminal Investigation and the West Central MEG Unit.
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