Man sentenced in 400-pound marijuana bust in Inver Grove Heights

A 45-year-old man has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison for his role in the nearly 400 pounds of marijuana recovered from his Inver Grove Heights home in November of 2011.

"This case involved one of the largest marijuana seizures in our county's history," County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement Dec. 30.

Scott Bradley Cunningham and three others were charged in December 2011 with first-degree possession with intent to distribute and first-degree possession, both felonies, for the more than $1 million worth of marijuana seized by the Dakota County Drug Task Force, according to the Dakota County Attorney's Office. Cunningham was sentenced to only one of those felony charges, first-degree possession, and was credited 259 days for time served towards his sentence, according to state court records.

Brian Lee Speldrick, 59, pleaded guilty in September to fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, and was sentenced to two years of probation, according to the attorney's office. He was living at Cunningham's home along the 9200 block of Inver Grove Trail when the drugs were seized.

The charges filed against Holly Joan Swenson, 32, of Rosemount, and Jerilyn Reis, 44, of Kiester, were dismissed, the attorney's office said.

Following an earlier search of the home that uncovered only about 14 pounds of pot, an anonymous tipster called the Dakota County Drug Task Force's tip line on Nov. 28, 2011, about the massive stash, saying it was hidden behind a false wall, according to court documents. Police found 72 30-gallon bins of pot stacked in the approximately 5-foot by 40-foot room. Several guns were also seized, along with nearly $4,500 in cash and drug paraphernalia.

The space was so packed with product, in some spots floor to cieling, Sgt. Dan Bianconi said at the time that officers could "barely get in there." 

The drug bust reeled in nearly 10 times the total amount of marijuana seized by the county task force in 2010. The Dakota County Drug Task Force collected a total of 47 pounds of marijuana that year. 

It appeared the drug was grown in Zumbrota, and then stored in Cunningham's Inver Grove Heights home. The Goodhue County Sheriff's Office found 464 suspected marijuana plants in November 2011 at the property in Zumbrota, just south of Red Wing.

"It was shocking to see this much marijuana being stored in an Inver Grove Heights home," Backstrom said in late 2011.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and Follow her at Cory Streeter contributed to this report.



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