Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

May 6, 2024

U.S. attorney, DEA getting tough on illegal marijuana operations across Maine

cannabis plants Photo / Maine is cracking down on illegal marijuana operations around the state.

There may be some good news for Maine's legal cannabis businesses, who say the industry is now saturated with sellers. Federal prosecutors are cracking down on illegal marijuana operations in Maine.

U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee on Friday said that more than 40 illegal marijuana operations have been shut down over recent months.

Authorities believe they have identified about 100 operations in Maine, with the most in rural areas in the central part of the state, according to McElwee. That number fluctuates as law enforcement continues to shut down the grows or people abandon them to avoid arrest or prosecution.

“We expect this law enforcement action to continue until the individuals operating the illegal grows come to understand that Maine is not a safe or hospitable place for such activity,” said McElwee. 

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration believes that transnational criminal organizations with ties to China are involved in illegal marijuana growing activities in at least 20 states, according to the McElwee’s office.

She also noted that investigations so far have found no connections to illegal immigration or human trafficking. People arrested in correction to the grows are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents from New York and Massachusetts.

“An investigation into three Chinese nationals recently apprehended at a border crossing in northern Maine showed no connection to illegal marijuana grows,” said McElwee. "From what we know now, the individuals working in these illicit grows appear to be doing so willingly.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that our Office takes seriously,” she continued. “Any evidence of human trafficking will be thoroughly investigated and if discovered, vigorously prosecuted.”

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, several federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service, have been working with state and local law enforcement to investigate illegal growers.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF