Maine law enforcement busted a massive illegal marijuana growing operation Thursday morning at 9 Riverside Drive in Norridgewock.
Although no arrests were made, law enforcement seized more than 2,000 cannabis plants and 10 lbs of processed marijuana, according to Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster.
Read more of the Maine Wire’s “Triad Weed”
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- Triad Weed: One NYC Bank Financed More Than 50 Illicit Chinese Marijuana Grow Houses in Rural Maine…
- State Law Enforcement, Feds Struggle to Clamp Down on Illegal Chinese Drug Operations in Maine
- Maine Legislature Will Consider Proposal to Fight Chinese-owned Marijuana Operations
- Collins, Golden Renew Call for DOJ Action Against Illicit Chinese Marijuana Grows Following Maine Wire Report
A 2016 Ford Transit van was also seized, according to Lancaster.
According to real estate records, the property is owned by Hai Bin Cen, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
When the Maine Wire called a New York phone number listed for Cen, a woman answered the phone, claimed not to know Cen, but did say she owned multiple properties in rural Maine.
According to Somerset Registry of Deeds records, Cen purchased the property in May 2021 using a mortgage from Quontic Bank originated by Ying-Chan Weng.
Quontic is a “Community Development Financial Institution” bank that also financed other recently busted Chinese marijuana operations in Maine.
Cen’s property is one of several in Norridgewock that town officials believe are operating as illegal marijuana growing operations.
Nearly 20 properties operating as Chinese-owned marijuana growing and trafficking hubs have been raided in Maine over the last year.
According to a leaked Department of Homeland Security memo first published by the Daily Caller News Foundation, federal officials suspect there are more than 270 such operations in Maine.
Here’s the full statement from Somerset Sheriff Dale Lancaster:
On Thursday, February 8, 2024, at approximately 7:15 am, the Somerset County Sheriff’s office executed a drug search warrant at a residence on Riverside Drive in Norridgewock. The search warrant was obtained by the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Division. The search warrant was executed by the Sheriff, 5 Sheriff’s Office Detectives, 4 Sheriff’s Office Deputies, 3 Detectives from the Waterville Police Department, as well as an Agent from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), an Agent from the Department of Homeland Security (HSI), an Agent from the U.S. Border Patrol, and Inspectors from the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy.
The search warrant was obtained after a lengthy investigation into the suspected illegal cultivation of marijuana plants at the residence. During the execution of the search warrant, over 2,000 growing marijuana plants were seized, along with approximately 10 pounds of harvested marijuana, illicit drug related materials, and a white 2016 Ford Transit van, which is believed to have been used in the cultivation activities.
No individuals were present at the residence when the search warrant was executed. Once the individuals responsible for the illegal marijuana cultivation activities are located, they will be charged with Cultivation of Marijuana (Class B, over 500 plants) and Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs (Class B, over 500 plants).
The Sheriff’s Office was assisted in this investigation by the Somerset/Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office, DEA, HSI, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy.