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Minnesota man hit with drug charges after record-breaking drug bust turns up nearly $4 million in THC vape cartridges

2019-09-26

A Minnesota man arrested after authorities seized more than 77,000 illegal THC vaping cartridges in a record-breaking bust earlier this week has been jailed on drug charges in lieu of a $3 million bond.

Valentin Andonii was hit on Wednesday with one count of first-degree drug possession and one count of first-degree drug distribution of illegal cartridges with a high concentration of THC following a raid of his home, KARE 11 reported.

Officers with the Northwest Metro Drug Task Force on Monday discovered thousands of illicit e-cigarette cartridges as well as more than $20,000 of counterfeit money and other marijuana and THC related products. The cartridges, which authorities believe were imported from out of state, have an estimated street wroth of $3.8 million.

It’s unclear whether they were manufactured on the black market or in a state where they are legal, police said.

Warrants for Andonii’s home and vehicles were issued after an investigation after a tip from a criminal informant, who agreed to purchased 100 THC cartridges for $1,500 and then alert authorities to his purchase. The packaging on the product reportedly boasted that the cartridges contain “94% or greater THC.”

The suspect’s criminal history includes two felony drug possession in 2017.

“This case highlights just one case of many that are going on across the state,” Brian Marquart, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs statewide gang and drug coordinator, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Nationwide, 11 people have so far succumbed to vaping-related illnesses. The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed it’s first casualty in the nationwide health scare and a day later, officials from Georgia also reported a death in the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, another 530 people have been sickened by the vaping illness.

Minnesota Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Daniel Huff told MPR earlier this week there’s no evidence to suggest the recent string of sickened people who vape are connected to the massive cache of recently-confiscated cartridges.