Five men indicted in plot to transport hockey bags full of weed into Twin Cities
A drug plot that involved flying hockey bags full of weed into the Twin Cities using a single-engine plane has led to five men being indicted, according to federal court records unsealed this week.
The five men -- Todd C. Skonnord, 26, of St. Paul, and Cameron L. Christensen, 23, of Andover, and Coloradans Boyd E. Wilkinson, 36, Robert L. Bowker, 33, and Anthony W. Raymond, 37 -- were arrested in late September and early October for conspiring to distribute 132 pounds of weed, according to the indictment, which was originally filed in late November.
If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charges, and another five for possession.
In late September, a Homeland Security agent assigned to a drug task force got a tip about some suspicious activity at the Anoka County Airport in Blaine. Two men had flown in on a single-engine plane filled with hockey bags. They both seemed nervous, which led the tipster to believe the bags were full of drugs.
Four days later, around 3:30 a.m. -- hours after the air traffic control tower had closed -- the same plane was getting ready to land in the Anoka County airport again. This time, the Homeland Security agent was waiting for them.
The agent boarded the plane after it stopped at a taxiway. In it, he found two men fitting the description given by the tipster and a rear cabin full of hockey bags, according to the affidavit.
"I immediately smelled the strong odor of marijuana," the agent noted in his report.
After a drug-sniffing dog hit on the bags, the agent opened one of them up. It was filled with marijuana, according to the affidavit. In total, he found 88 pounds of weed in the plane. The two men, Wilkinson and Hecker, said they were transporting the bags for someone else, but they wouldn't say who.
On October 4, Iowa state patrol officers pulled over Christensen and Skonnord, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. From their car, officers seized almost $80,000 in cash, a "small amount" of marijuana, documents "appearing to be drug ledgers," and several cell phones. One of the phones contained pictures of marijuana, bulk amounts of cash, commercial marijuana cultivation tools, and some texts that appeared to be coordinating a drug deal.
A week later, after obtaining a search warrant, authorities found more evidence on Wilkinson's cell phone, including photos of cash on the dashboard of an airplane. Presumably, this was the link to Wilkinson and Hecker.
Hecker and Wilkinson have already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy each.
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