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Investigation: EBT cards exchanged for cocaine, 30 arrested

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After a nine-month investigation, 30 people were arrested Tuesday in a cocaine trafficking scheme in northern Minnesota, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The multi-agency investigation, "Operation Crackdown," revealed crack cocaine was being traded for food stamps or EBT/SNAP cards.

“These trades were made at rates equal to approximately 50 percent of the face value of the card. Crack cocaine with a street value of approximately $100 was purchased with cards holding benefits equal to $200,’’ police said in this morning’s release.

Several suspects face charges related to trafficking crack cocaine and wrongfully obtaining public assistance.

WDIO reports another half-dozen people who were already in custody will also be charged. Authorities are still looking for 10 more people related to the case.

Last spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new rules to target fraud in the state’s food stamp program.

Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation for the number of people that have sought four a more replacement benefit cards, a key indicator of fraud. The activity is now a red flag for food stamp trafficking.

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