Updated: 04/20/2014 7:49 AM
Created: 04/19/2014 5:46 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal
Investigators say the bust struck at the heart of international drug cartels. Minnesota Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Jack Riley said, "We've punched organized crime right in the face."
But is Operation Exile a knockout blow?
"This bust this week was an important step but we have to attack heroin from all different fronts, not just law enforcement," explained Carol Falkowski, who used to be the director of the state's drug agency.
Falkowski still writes a report on local drug trends twice a year. She says police need to make it harder to sell heroin in Minnesota, which this bust does, but the cops can't do it all alone.
"Everyone has a role to play - law enforcement, doctors, and the general public - in realizing that it isn't punkin hollow here, and we have a serious drug issue that we all have to step up to the plate and address," she said.
In other words, the rhetoric we heard this week isn't lip service, but it's only one piece of a very complicated puzzle.
"There may be 80 arrests here, but there may be 80 arrests in Iowa, in Missouri, in every state from here to Mexico and eventually they add up to a strong cumulative effect," Falkowski said.
Even if Operation Exile just raises the visibility of this issue, that's a very good thing, and it has the potential to help a lot of people, Falkowski said.