The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office in Viroqua made two arrests, and issued an arrest warrant for a third person, following two separate investigations of marijuana growing operations in the county over a three-month span.
Arrested were Brandon Thom, 31, Viroqua; and Michael Knutson, 54, Westby.
Thom was arrested Oct. 7 on a charge of manufacturing marijuana.
Knutson was arrested Oct. 24 on charges of manufacturing marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
A warrant has been issued for Raymond Dobson, 46, formerly of Viroqua. He faces a charge of being party to the crime of manufacturing marijuana.
The Sheriff’s Office conducted both investigations with the assistance of the West Central Drug Task Force.
According to the Vernon County Broadcaster of Viroqua, Thom was convicted in August 2011 of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He spent six months in jail and was on probation at the time of his Oct. 7 arrest.
The Broadcaster reported that Thom received over five pounds of marijuana from California through the mail in January 2011. Thom stood to make $10,000 from the transaction, which was intercepted by postal inspectors, who notified Viroqua police. Thom was arrested after picking up the marijuana at the Viroqua Post Office.
During court proceedings in 2011, Vernon County District Attorney Timothy Gaskell said Thom had previously been arrested in Nevada for trafficking marijuana. Thom agreed to a diversion agreement in that case, but left the state before completing his obligations.
The Broadcaster’s search of state circuit court records showed no previous drug-related arrests for Knutson or Dobson.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the investigations were initiated by tips from county residents.