Illegal Chinese marijuana cultivation cases headed to court

Thu, 06/20/2024 - 2:30pm

    In January, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office led six raids in Whitefield and Chelsea leading to the arrest of seven Chinese Nationals and one person summonsed in connection with an alleged illegal marijuana growing cultivation operation. On Jan. 10, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, Maine Office of Cannabis Policy and Department of Homeland Security executed three search warrants in Whitefield and Jefferson.

    Det. Sgt. Ronald E. Rollins received information on Dec. 21, 2023 about a possible illegal marijuana operation at several Whitefield locations. In his court affidavit, Rollins reported conversations with several neighbors who spoke about “suspicions” at 34 Clover Lane. “Neighbors seeing vehicles coming and going late at night with only a short visit. A lack of seeing normal things like mowing the lawn or checking the mail. Neighbors also reported concerns about marijuana growing,” wrote Rollins. 

    He checked the 34 Clover Lane address with the Office of Marijuana Policy and Department of Agriculture and Homeland Security to see whether Xiangming Ye, 62, or another inhabitant Hongxia Kuang had a license to grow marijuana. Rollins discovered neither had a license.

    Ye will be arraigned in Lincoln County Unified Criminal Court on July 11. On May 14, Ye, with a previous address of Brooklyn, New York, submitted a motion to dismiss evidence through his lawyer. Xongxia Kuang was summonsed for cultivating marijuana, a Class B crime on Jan. 10. Kuang has a court disposition hearing on Aug. 5.

    On Jan. 17, law enforcement encountered Zhen Zhong Chen, 45, of New York City at 107 Rockland Road in Jefferson. In court documents, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Det. Matthew Ryan identified Chen through the suspect’s New York State driver’s license, and later discovered Chen’s name was on the house deed.

    The search team found over 500 marijuana plants with items needed for cultivation. Chen was later transported to a Whitefield fire station for further questioning. During the drive, Ryan said Chen commented on how hard it was to get by and make money. Once Chen arrived at the fire station, he requested through a translator an attorney and all law enforcement questioning ended, wrote Ryan. 

    Chen is charged with a Class B offense of cultivating more than 500 marijuana plants. A July 11 arraignment is set in Lincoln County Unified Criminal Court in Wiscasset and Chen is on a July 23 docket call.

    On Jan. 31, seven arrests were made in connection with illegal marijuana growing operations in Whitefield and Chelsea. Weihuan Liu, 41, of Brooklyn, New York was arrested during a raid at 91 Jefferson Road in Whitefield. Law enforcement reported seizing more than 700 plants and 40 pounds of processed marijuana. He was charged with unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs and cultivating marijuana, both Class B crimes. A July 11 arraignment is set in Lincoln County Unified Criminal Court.

    Huan Ying Li, 57, formerly of New York City was arrested during a raid at 333 North Howe Road in Whitefield. A police report shows nearly 30 pounds of processed marijuana seized. According to Lincoln County property records, Li purchased the property in November 2019. She was charged with trafficking more than 20 pounds of marijuana, a Class B felony. A July 11 arraignment on the indictment is scheduled in Lincoln County Unified Criminal Court, and she is on a July 23 docket call. 

    Ming Da Li, 41, of Brooklyn, New York was arrested at 754 Cooper Road in Chelsea after the seizure of 900 plants. He was charged with the Class B offense of cultivating more than 900 marijuana plants and unlawful trafficking a scheduled drug. A July 11 arraignment is set in Lincoln County Unified Criminal Court, and Li is on a July 23 docket call.

    Wan Ting Xiao, 50, of San Gabriel, California was arrested in Whitefield for cultivation of marijuana and unlawful trafficking scheduled drugs. She has a docket call scheduled for July 23 in Lincoln County Unified Criminal Court.

    In the seven Jan. 31 arrests and one summons, law enforcement seized 6,600 marijuana plants, according to The Maine Wire, an internet news service.