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Police arrest 3 men after seizing 2,600 marijuana plants at Maine home

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MACHIAS (BDN) -- Police raided a massive illegal marijuana operation in Machias on Thursday, arresting three men and seizing more than 2,600 plants and 100 pounds of processed cannabis.

The raid was notable because of a potential link to the massive network of Chinese-linked marijuana grows that has sprung up among ordinary properties along the Interstate 95 corridor over the last three years. It was the first one to be raided in Washington County.

The Machias grow was inside a home and two large barns at 414 East Kennebec Road in a rural part of town, Machias Police Chief Keith Mercier said. His agency raided the property at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday with assistance from the FBI and other federal drug enforcement and immigration agencies, along with state agencies and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The three men at the property, Dongyang Li, 60, of Brooklyn, New York, Ming Li, 52, of Machias, and Peng Yu Chan, 61, of Machias, were arrested and charged with two counts of felony drug trafficking, Mercier said. None of them are U.S. citizens, he said.

Maine has 270 illegal grows linked to China that could be worth $4 billion altogether, according to a federal memo leaked to the Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that published it in August. The memo said the money from the properties may be used for other crimes or sent back to China, heightening concern at the national level over these kinds of operations.

That memo drew public attention to the problem. Since then, Maine’s congressional delegation has pressured the Justice Department to crack down on illegal Chinese grows.

While the state has legalized marijuana for medical and adult use, these kinds of grows remain illegal due to their scale and because they operate outside the state-licensed systems.

The Machias property sits on 58 acres and was most recently purchased by a Massachusetts company in 2021, according to property records. Only a few similar grows have been raided in Maine, but they have also been linked to people with Chinese names and addresses in Massachusetts and New York.

That was also the case at a former chicken barn in Carmel that was raided by police in June.

They arrested four men and seized 3,400 plants and 111 pounds of processed marijuana.


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