Southern MN mayor charged in cannabis growing operation

<div>Winnebago Mayor Scott Jacobson</div> <strong>(City of Winnebago, MN)</strong>
Winnebago Mayor Scott Jacobson
(City of Winnebago, MN)

WINNEBAGO, Minn. (FOX 9) - A southern Minnesota mayor is facing charges after authorities busted an illegal marijuana growing operation.

The charges outline a year-long investigation into the operation after investigators were tipped off in January 2023 about a number of cannabis plants being grown at a "commercial-grade greenhouse" off 340th Avenue, on the city's southern edge.

State officials were able to identify the owners of the greenhouse as Scott Robertson and Jacob Robertson. Officials say the Robertsons were previously licensed to grow hemp but no longer had a license for 2023. In August 2023, the Minnesota Legislature legalized marijuana possession and growing but put limits on how much you can grow. That limit is eight plants at home in an enclosed, locked space that is not visible to the public.

According to the charges, investigators with the South Central Drug Investigative Unit requested the state Department of Agriculture perform a site inspection. However, they were told that state officials are required to give advanced notice of an inspection.

The charges state that after notice was given, witnesses told investigators that the Robertsons had backed a trailer onto the property and removed "all growing plants from inside the greenhouses at the property." The inspection in February 2023 uncovered no crops.

A year later, the charges state that a Faribault County deputy reported to the drug task force that, while visiting a nearby business, he could smell the "strong odor of unburnt marijuana" that he believed was coming from the Robertsons' greenhouse. A short time later, an agent with the drug task force visited the area of the greenhouse and smelled the same scent.

This time around, the South Central Drug Investigative Unit applied for search warrants for three addresses connected to the Robertsons, including the greenhouse.

About 240 cannabis plants were found during the search.

Both Scott and Jacob Robertson face unlawful cultivation charges. In the complaint, investigators say Scott Robertson admitted to growing 200 plants at the greenhouse -- and both men said they were the only ones involved in the operation.

Multiple reports identify Scott Robertson as the mayor of Winnebago. FOX 9 was able to determine that a phone number associated with the mayor is registered to one of the addresses searched by the drug task force. Scott Robertson's term is set to expire at the end of the year.

After being charged on Friday, both men were out of jail as of Sunday.