Police have seized thousands of illegally grown marijuana plants in a search for a Norredwalk home

Police have seized thousands of illegally grown marijuana plants in a search for a Norredwalk home

NORREDJUK — Police seized thousands of marijuana plants while executing a search warrant at a home Thursday morning, marking the latest in a string of recent busts of similar illegal grow operations across the state.

Photo courtesy of Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

More than 2,000 plants and 10 pounds of harvested marijuana were seized in a multi-agency raid of a Riverside Drive residence that involved more than a dozen law enforcement officers, according to Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster.

Police also seized “other illegal drug-related items” and a 2016 Ford Transit truck believed to be connected to the operation, according to Lancaster.

No arrests were made because no one was home when police investigated the property shortly after 7 a.m., Lancaster said. The people involved face charges of marijuana cultivation and scheduled drug trafficking, both Class B felonies.

Lancaster declined to provide further information about the suspects and how police identified this residence, citing the ongoing investigation.

Norredwalk’s bust comes as Maine’s congressional delegation renewed its call for federal authorities last month to investigate illegal growth operations said to benefit Chinese investors. Police in recent weeks have made arrests in Belgrade, China, Cornville and Whitefield in connection with illegal grows that authorities say circumvent Maine’s legal recreational marijuana laws.

At the local level, other questions have emerged surrounding the growing operations, including who bears the costs of investigations. At Wednesday’s Somerset County Commission meeting, Commissioner Joel Stetkiss, who is also the state’s Republican chair, raised that question directly to Lancaster.

Lancaster said his office does not receive any financial support from other agencies.

“These operations cost a great deal of money. Just to get to the research, it takes a lot of time,” Lancaster replied. “The county will bear these costs.”

On Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office received assistance from several agencies, including the Waterville Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Maine State Office of Cannabis Policy, according to Lancaster.

The Kennebec and Somerset District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office also assisted in the investigation.

Federal agencies were assisting the Sheriff’s Office as part of a larger multi-jurisdictional investigation, Lancaster said in an interview. The warrants were obtained by the Sheriff’s Office.

“This investigation is part of a larger investigation currently underway,” Lancaster said.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said a search warrant was executed at a home on River Road. This information has since been updated.

Morning Sentinel staff writer Dylan Tocinski contributed reporting.

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