LIMERICK — A Massachusetts man who had been on the run for nearly two weeks since police showed up at a marijuana patch they say he was tending in the back woods of Limerick turned himself in to police on Wednesday.

Jay Dandreo, 50, of Lynn, was held in the York County Jail on $5,000 bail after being charged with aggravated cultivation of marijuana.

Police loaded 183 seized marijuana plants into a pickup truck to be hauled away from Dandreo’s father’s land on Sawyer Mountain Road. The plants were 3 to 6 feet tall, with a street value of $257,000, police said.

“That’s been growing probably most of the summer,” said Peter Mador, supervisory agent in charge of the York County unit of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. “Another couple of weeks, it would have been prime for picking.”

Dandreo started growing marijuana on a cleared patch of land, Mador said, and stayed in a cabin a short distance away.

Police said they found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip.

“We believe that the loaded shotgun was there to protect his field, given the type of weapon it was,” Mador said.

MDEA agents, joined by state troopers, wardens and York County sheriff’s deputies, also found two other shotguns and a rifle, Mador said.

Police developed intelligence that led them to the property near the top of Sawyer Mountain Road and searched it on Aug. 23.

The search warrant required police to announce themselves when they arrived, and as they banged on the cabin door, a man — who they later identified as Dandreo — was headed down a path from the pot plants to the cabin.

He turned and ran.

A state police dog was brought in and tracked Dandreo through the woods for four miles, but he had a 30-minute head start and the dog lost the scent, Mador said.

He said Dandreo had rigged up a natural irrigation system, using runoff from the mountain, and the plants appeared as if they had been tended regularly.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

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