NORRIDGEWOCK — Thousands of marijuana plants were seized Thursday morning when law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at a home in Norridgewock, marking the latest in a series of recent busts of similar illegal growing operations across Maine.

Law enforcement officials seized more than 2,000 growing plants and 10 pounds of harvested marijuana Thursday at a home on Riverside Drive in Norridgewock, according to the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. Somerset County Sheriff’s Office photo

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

Police also seized other “illicit drug related materials” and a 2016 Ford Transit van believed to be connected to the marijuana growing operation, according to Lancaster.

No arrests were made as no one was at the residence when police investigated the property shortly after 7 a.m., Lancaster said. Those allegedly involved in the marijuana growing operation face charges of cultivation of marijuana and trafficking in scheduled drugs, both Class B offenses.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Lancaster declined to provide further information on the suspects or say how police identified the residence as the possible site of a marijuana growing operation.

The Norridgewock raid and arrests came after Maine’s congressional delegation last month is renewed its call for federal officials to investigate illegal marijuana growing operations that reportedly benefit Chinese investors. Police in recent weeks have made arrests in Belgrade, China, Cornville and Whitefield in connection with illegal growing operations that officials have said are circumventing Maine’s legal recreational marijuana laws.


Locally, other questions have emerged surrounding the growing operations, including who is footing the cost of the investigations. At Wednesday’s Somerset County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Joel Stetkis, who is also the state Republican chair, raised that question directly to Lancaster.

Lancaster said his office is receiving no financial support from other agencies.

“Those operations cost quite a bit of money,” Lancaster said. “Just to get to the search, there’s a lot of time involved. The county will burden those costs.”

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in Thursday’s raid by several law enforcement agencies, including the Waterville Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol and Maine Office of Cannabis Policy, according to Lancaster.

The district attorney’s office for Kennebec and Somerset counties and the U.S. Attorney’s Office also assisted in the investigation.

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

“This investigation is part of a larger investigation that is presently going on,” Lancaster said.

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

Morning Sentinel staff writer Dylan Tusinski contributed reporting.

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