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More arrests made in Murray County marijuana grow operation

SLAYTON -- Two more people have been arrested in connection with a Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force investigation into a marijuana grow operation discovered in Murray County earlier this month.

Arrested Wednesday after execution of a search warrant were Robin Hope Easterday, 24, of Fulda, and Jeremy Fredrick Aguirre, 32, of Marshall. Easterday and Aguirre are charged with two counts of fifth-degree controlled substance crime and possession of drug paraphernalia.

New information was received that several marijuana plants from the grow operation had been moved to the Easterday residence to elude discovery by the task force. During execution of the search warrant, authorities located and seized methamphetamine, nine marijuana plants, grow equipment, numerous hypodermic syringes and other items. The marijuana plants allegedly belonged to the girlfriend of Austen Witte.

Travis Wallace Schwarz, 21, of Slayton, and Austen Kyle Witte, 22, of Ruthton, were arrested Sunday in Cameron Township, Murray County, while allegedly tending marijuana plants that had been under surveillance for a week.

According to police reports, information had been received about a possible marijuana grow in Section 32 of Cameron Township. The information was confirmed when authorities found two plots in cornfields totaling approximately 30 plants. Surveillance was started, but no activity was observed until Sept. 22.

Authorities saw headlights as a vehicle approached a field access to the corn fields. Throughout surveillance, the vehicle could be seen making several stops. During each stop, a light could be seen coming in and out of the fields.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, the suspect vehicle exited the field road. A task force agent activated his emergency lights, and the vehicle drove around the squad car and continued on until another squad car prevented it from continuing. Schwarz and Witte were removed from the vehicle and placed under arrest.

In the vehicle, a 1985 Ford pickup, authorities found a 425-gallon water tank, along with garden hose, insecticide, flashlights, an electric cord and a power inverter.

During an interview with Witte, he stated it was his first trip to the grow site. He said Schwarz had asked for his help.

Witte described what they had done that evening: When arriving at a grow site, he would run hoses out to the marijuana plants while Schwarz would get the pump ready. They stopped at three locations, Witte said, and he would hold the flashlight while Schwarz watered each plant.

The marijuana plants were approximately 30 yards out into the field. According to Witte, there would be three or four corn rows taken out, and rows of marijuana would be planted, each row 20 to 30 feet in length.

During the interview, Witte drew a map of the different marijuana plots, indicating two plots of which law enforcement was previously unaware.

Schwarz, who is currently on probation from a drug-related arrest in 2005, declined an interview and requested an attorney.

After receiving consent from the landowner, the property where the plots were located was searched. Four sites were found, with 89 plants located weighing approximately 291 pounds.

Assisting the BRDTF with the investigation were the Brown, Lyon, Redwood Drug Task Force, the Fulda Police Department, the Murray County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota State Patrol.