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Charges filed in alleged Afton drug-growing operation

When Washington County drug cops executed a search warrant at an Afton residence, they found a stash of guns and a pound of marijuana, but that was only the beginning of their discoveries.

According to a criminal complaint, members of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force proceeded to the basement of the home, where they spotted light shining through a would-be wall. The light was coming from a hidden room in the basement, where investigators say they found 38 marijuana plants.

"Officers determined that this was a fully functional marijuana grow operation," the complaint states, referring to the Dec. 8, 2011 search.

Prosecutors in February filed charges against two men who lived in the residence: Brian Shane Larsen, 30, and David Walter Blais, 22.

Both men were charged with aiding and abetting marijuana possession, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Investigators began looking at the men's Odell Avenue South residence in June 2011 after receiving information from a confidential informant that Larsen was selling drugs in the Washington County area, the complaint states. Following an investigation, officers received a warrant to search the residence.

According to the complaint, investigators located 18 guns and a pound of pot in the upstairs portion of the home.

The men rented the house, according to the complaint.

In an interview with police, Blais admitted to living in the basement and having knowledge of the hidden room, the complaint states.

Larsen's first court appearance is set for April 19.

Blais, who first appeared in court in March is due back June 7; his case is set for an August jury trial.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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