Raid on Illegal Chinese Marijuana Operation in Western Maine Seizes Illicit Drugs Worth $1M+
Law enforcement raided an illegal, industrial-scale marijuana grow operation Tuesday morning in Wilton, ME at 128 Weld Road, the former location of the Bass Shoe Factory building.
Multiple sources, including the owner of the property, confirmed police activity at the 10,000 square foot warehouse behind the old shoe factory main building, a site the Maine Wire visited in mid-November.
At the time, a man who identified himself as the general manager of the property confirmed that the site was a marijuana grow that paid an estimated $30,000 per month in rent.
Photos from the real estate listing show the inside of the building before it became a marijuana grow.
According to the general manager, the facility was operated by four Asian men who said they were from California, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts.
No individuals were apprehended in the course of the raid, according to a law enforcement source who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the operation.
Law enforcement seized what is estimated to be more than $1,000,000 in marijuana and marijuana product from the location.
The site was previously under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security for suspected ties to what the agency calls Asian Transnational Organized Crime, according to documents obtained by the Maine Wire.
In a memo first published by Jennie Taer of the Daily Caller News Foundation, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said the agency was aware of more than 270 such sites in Maine alone.
An investigation by the Maine Wire has located more than 100 hundred properties, mostly residential properties, operating as unlicensed marijuana grow facilities and owned by Chinese nationals.
One witness said he observed several dump trucks being loaded up and departing the site.
The property is owned by Travis Gray of Travis Gray Trucking. It is currently listed for sale at a price of $6 million.
Reached by phone, Gray said he had no knowledge concerning the illicit nature of the business his tenants were engaged in.
“I didn’t have any knowledge,” Gray said. “I did cooperate to the best of my ability, of course. That’s about all I know.”
“You try to do the best you can, do good business, and unfortunately some people don’t do right. That’s just how it is,” he said. “The rest of it is between the law enforcement and those guys.”
Gray said he did not interact with any federal or state law enforcement, only the local police department.
The Office of Cannabis Policy, the state agency that regulates legal marijuana businesses in Maine, has told the Maine Wire that it has no authority to investigate marijuana growing operations that are purely illegal.
Only two other properties in Maine have been raided by law enforcement, one in Carmel and one in Dexter.
The Carmel raid resulted in the seizure of more than 3,000 plants and the arrest of four Chinese men who are currently facing felony charges.
The raid in Dexter resulted in the seizure of nearly 1,000 plants but no arrests.
Neither the Wilton Police Department nor the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office immediately responded to inquiries.
This story will be updated as the Maine Wire gathers more information about the operation and the participating law enforcement agencies.