A Sparta man charged with running a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation over a three-year span pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony drug charge.

Corydon Drake

Drake

Corydon Drake, 38, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit manufacture or delivery of more than 10,000 grams of THC during his preliminary hearing in La Crosse County Circuit Court. He remains free on a $10,000 cash bond.

A man who came forward in October because he feared for his life told authorities he stored large amounts of marijuana for Drake in his basement until someone stole 20 to 30 pounds of the drug worth $43,890 from his house in late September, according to the criminal complaint.

In the first four months of last year, he said, he received hundreds of pounds of pot from Drake, who he estimated trafficked in 500 pounds total from Colorado during the period in which he worked for him, the complaint stated.

At least three times, he deposited drug profits into Drake’s bank account and twice drove $30,000 to Colorado, where he said Drake owns three homes with basement marijuana growing operations.

On Nov. 6, Drake ordered the man to pick up drug proceeds from Cazzie Marnach, 38, of Onalaska. Under police surveillance, Marnach gave him $38,422.29, according to the complaint.

Investigators the next day followed the man to one of Drake’s houses in Brighton, Colo., where he gave Drake the cash, the complaint stated.

Authorities on Jan. 3 searched a garage rented by Marnach at 1412 Caledonia St., where they found 26 pounds of marijuana and hash wax and $8,000.

Marnach stood mute Jan. 11 to conspiracy to commit delivery of more than 10,000 grams of THC in his third marijuana delivery case. In a 1998 case, he was placed on probation and later sent to prison when it was revoked. He also was placed on probation in a 2010 case.

In May 2016, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police intercepted a UPS package containing four pounds of marijuana and 80 small containers of hash wax shipped from Oregon to West Salem.

Detectives delivered the box to Amy Kneesel at 111 N. Mill St. Kneesel told authorities that Drake once before mailed marijuana to her house from a dispensary.

Flight records place Drake in Oregon at the time the package was shipped, and Drake is on surveillance video at a UPS store sending the box, Tom Johnson, investigative coordinator for the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group, testified Tuesday.

Prosecutors in April charged Drake with conspiracy to deliver more than 1,000 grams of THC. He was freed on a signature bond.

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Police and courts reporter

Anne Jungen covers law enforcement and the criminal justice system in La Crosse County. She joined the Tribune reporting staff in December 2005. You can contact her directly at ajungen@lacrossetribune.com or 608-791-8224.

(11) comments

laxlax

Those of you who are commenting that it's a waste of money, it's only pot, can I ask you a question? If he was another race, would you be commenting the same thing? I am just curious, not pointing fingers. I actually agree....it's weed, get over it. In my opinion, it should be legal anyways although the law is the law.

Themrman

Marijuana is a safe alternative to many pills and narcotics. We are in the middle of a heroin and meth epidemic, yet we are spending time and money on this? People are overdosing left and right and leaving disease ridden needles on playgrounds. Our city needs help and not from marijuana. Stop wasting time on this!

SaturnAscends

It's the LAW; get over it. Potheads stray not far from those dealing in deadly, and using, more nefarious chemicals.

Professor715

You are wrong. Stop living in the 80s and educate yourself on all the benefits of this plant. Would u let a child have seizures and die when it can be cured with cannabis? You are what’s wrong with society

El Duderino

Something doesn’t add up here. How is this not a federal issue? This is a multi-state investigation. Is he/they facing charges elsewhere for distribution when we’re done? 3-4 different states involved: weed intercepted by airport PD in MN, grow houses in CO, mailing from WA (or was it OR) resides and stored in WI...and La Crosse Country taxpayers get jammed with the bill for what’s likely to be a lengthy trial, potential appeals, and possibly a lengthy sentence? It’s ridiculous that we’re wasting resources on trying to put someone in a cage for cannabis in 2018! Let the feds deal with him if he must be charged.

ForReal21

Because the Feds probably don't care.

Straightarrow507

So this is what the police are spending their time doing huh? 😤😢 my son died of a heroin overdose but you are arresting pot dealers??

ForReal21

When did la Crosse become fake news???????

Jenrules289

La crosse county is mad because they didn’t profit. Meanwhile the heroin dealers get signature bonds and probation

Stiffy83

What a joke. Legalize it already

Dogooder

What a waste of the tax payers money!! Let these guys go

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