Wis. pot seizure suspect, a Vikings super-fan, also tied to bust in Detroit Lakes
A Minnesota man who cultivated a notable alter-ego as a sports fan was allegedly connected to more than 170 pounds of seized marijuana after drug seizures in his home state and in Wisconsin.
St. Croix County (Wis.) authorities called the discovery of more than 134 pounds of suspected marijuana at a Houlton storage unit — the largest drug seizure they have handled in recent memory.
The suspected drugs — 129 packages each totaling about 1 pound — were found Sept. 8 after authorities from Minnesota and Wisconsin executed a search warrant at Badger State Storage on Main Street in Houlton.
About 40 more pounds of pot allegedly belonging to the suspect, 44-year-old Karl R. Heinrichs, were seized during a traffic stop the same day in Stillwater.
"That was an extremely large seizure that we normally don't come across," St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Scott Knudson said of the Houlton discovery.
Heinrichs was charged Sept. 9 in St. Croix County Circuit Court with felony THC possession with intent to deliver. He was being held in Washington County jail on $200,000 bail while awaiting transfer to St. Croix County, according to jail staff. He is also charged in Washington County with two additional counts of felony drug sales.
Heinrichs is known in Minnesota Vikings fandom as "Sir Death," a member of the Viking World Order group of hardcore fans.
Heinrichs donned a macabre costume topped with a mask featuring bones protruding from it in the role. He has been a fixture among Viking World Order cohorts at games — and during tailgating sessions — where the demonstrative group rallies fans and players.
The bust began Sept. 8 when Washington County investigators got a tip that Heinrichs was picking up 200 pounds of marijuana from someone who may have 1,500 pounds of pot en route to Kansas City, according to the Minnesota charging document.
Events began unfolding the next day when a search warrant was executed at Heinrichs' home and about 153 grams of marijuana and marijuana wax was allegedly found. Investigators continued watching the home and observed Heinrichs drive to the Oak Park Heights, Minn., Walmart, where he met up with someone driving a Chevrolet Suburban. Both vehicles were then tracked heading to Houlton, where investigators lost track of them until they re-entered Minnesota on the Stillwater bridge.
As St. Croix County authorities investigated the Houlton area, Washington County investigators followed Heinrichs to his Stillwater home and allegedly watched him transfer a Vikings cooler and a black bag into a Jeep parked there.
Officers stopped the Jeep near Heinrichs' home as it drove off. A search of the vehicle turned up more than 31 pounds of pot and more than nine pounds of marijuana wax, according to a Washington County complaint.
The Jeep's driver told authorities Heinrichs contacted him to pick up the marijuana for sales. The driver, who was not identified in the complaint, said he knew there was pot in the cooler and he intended to sell the contents and give Heinrichs the proceeds.
"He said he knew the defendant from Vikings games," the complaint states.
Heinrichs was arrested and admitted to meeting a man in a black SUV and that they drove to Houlton, where Heinrichs rented a storage unit and kept the pot.
"(Heinrichs) stated he was in debt from student loans and credit cards as well as from the loss of marijuana that was seized after he was arrested in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota," the complaint states — and goes on to note that Heinrichs faces drug possession charges there.
Heinrichs allegedly told investigators the pot he possessed was "fronted" to him so he could recoup some of the loss from the Detroit Lakes seizure. He said he used the drug money to buy pinball machines, arcade games, Vikings merchandise, season tickets for the football team and tattoos.
"He stated he spends the money as fast as he gets it as he knows it will be taken from him," the complaint states.
A search of his home allegedly turned up several containers of marijuana wax in a garage freezer. The complaint describes the garage as a "Vikings man cave," replete with a Vikings pool table, team-themed bar accessories and photos of him in his Sir Death costume.
The warrant was served after investigators arrested the Stillwater man and confiscated a key from him that opened the storage unit.
According to the St. Croix County criminal complaint:
Washington County investigators alerted St. Croix County deputies Sept. 8 that they were investigating Heinrichs and passed along information about a marijuana delivery.
The investigators stopped at Badger Storage and spoke with the manager, who said Heinrichs rented a storage unit there. Authorities went to the unit, where they reported smelling a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside it.
Authorities opened the unit and found six garbage bags labeled with the names of suspected marijuana strains. The bags contained 129 individual packages weighing a total of more than 134 pounds.
The substance in the packages tested positive for THC.
Heinrichs' initial St. Croix County court appearance had not yet been set by Monday, Sept. 19.
Knudson called the bust "one of the biggest in recent memory" and said the Heinrichs arrest was significant. "It appeared that he played an active role in drug activity in the area," he said.
Knudson said there is an active investigation probing the source of the marijuana.
Heinrichs makes his initial court appearance in Washington County on Oct. 17.