Suspect tries to outrun law enforcement in vehicle
SHELL LAKE – A ginseng-related complaint to the Department of Natural Resources turned in to a marijunana bust that involved 114 marijuana plants and five pounds of illegally-harvested ginseng.
According to a news release from Washburn County Sheriff Terry Dryden, sheriff’s deputies and DNR wardens conducted a search at W2150 Spring Lake Road in the Town of Springbrook Thursday morning, Aug. 31, after being tipped off to an illegal harvest of ginseng via a message on the DNR hotline.
A Polk County man who had secured permission to harvest ginseng on Town of Springbrook lands arrived at one of his ginseng locations to discover it had been harvested before the season.
On Thursday evening DNR warden Pete Carlson led a search to find the suspect, August Schmidt, 59, conducting surveillance on the Schmidt’s car. He attempted contact with Schmidt as Schmidt exited the woods wearing muddy camo clothes and carrying a heavy backpack. The suspect was able to elude Carlson and left the scene at a high rate of speed. Carlson was unable to run back to his truck in time to follow Schmidt’s vehicle.
Wardens Hagen, Loining, Peters, and a Washburn County deputy attempted contact with the suspect at his residence in Washburn County. While at the residence, officers discovered several marihuana plants growing near the suspect’s residence.
Officers obtained a search warrant and a subsequent search of the residence uncovered 114 marijuana plants growing in the surrounding woods, in the residence and around five pounds of illegally harvested wild ginseng drying in the residence.
Schmidt appeared in the Washburn County Circuit Court Thursday afternoon, Aug. 31. He is charged with felony manufacturing of THC, felony possession of THC and possession of drug paraphernalia. Schmidt was released on a $500 Signature Bond. Further charges may be forthcoming and the DNR will be pursing obstructing charges and charges as it relates to the illegal harvest ginseng. – Gary King with information from Washburn County Sheriff’s Dept.