SAVOY, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Two men are under arrest and thousands of marijuana plants have been seized following an investigation into an illegal marijuana growing operation at a Berkshire County home.
Mass. State Police spokesperson David Procopio said that an Eversource crew was called to a home on Jackson Road in Savoy on July 29 for an electrical problem.
The crew reportedly found that wires were overloaded and damaged from excessive electricity use at the house.
Procopio noted that the linemen approached the house to speak with a resident and a man identified as 28-year-old Yebin Mai of Staten Island, NY left the home, claimed not to speak much English, and refused to let the crew to inspect the electrical hookups.
The linemen then tried to explain that they needed to cut power to the house, at which time Mai reportedly became agitated and gestured that they couldn’t shut the power off.
Procopio added that the crew continued to try and explain the situation, but that was unsuccessful.
“At one point MAI reached over to the Eversource lineman and placed an envelope in the pocket of the lineman’s vest. The lineman saw that the envelope contained $100 bills,” Procopio said, adding that the employee tried to return the money, but had their hand pushed away.
The Eversource crew then decided to leave the electricity on, leave the home, and contacted police.
Troopers from the State Police barracks in Cheshire responded and, while speaking to the linemen, a pickup truck – with three people inside – drove down the driveway in an effort to leave the property. They stopped the truck to, again, allow the crew to try and explain the safety hazard to the home.
The driver, identified as Mai, kept reportedly saying that he didn’t speak or understand English. When one trooper asked for Mai to turn off the truck, he did.
A check of the four electric meters on the home reportedly found that metal and wiring in and around the meters had melted because of the excessive power usage. In addition, there were reportedly burn marks on the wood that housed the meters, which indicated that there was, at some point, a small fire.
“Eversource records indicated the home was using $10,000 in electricity every month,” Procopio explained.
In addition, Procopio said that troopers made several other observations from outside including:
- A slight smell for fresh grown marijuana near the house, which became stronger when power was cut to the house.
- A distinct sounds of multiple fans running in the residence.
- All windows had been covered with closed curtains and what appeared to be plywood on the interior of the windows.
- Debris from what appeared to be extensive renovations in the house was found in the backyard
- Large green pots used for planting and some large florescent light fixtures were found in that debris.
- There was camera tracking the entrance and exit of anyone using each entrance.
- At the end of a worn path at the back of the house, investigators found a large pile of used potting soil.
- Roots and stalks were found in the soil. Procopio noted that the troopers, based on their training and experience, knew these to be discarded marijuana roots.
Mai was questioned with the help of a translation app and reportedly said that he didn’t own the house and didn’t know why he was at the house.
Troopers allowed Mai and the others in the truck to leave pending further investigation. The envelope containing the money was also returned.
Authorities determined that the house was purchased in 2017 by Bin Huang of Brooklyn, NY for $200,000 cash.
State Police applied for a search warrant for the home, which was granted by a Berkshire County court.
Procopio said that the warrant was executed on July 31, but nobody was found in the home.
“Immediately upon approaching the cellar, Troopers detected an overwhelming odor of fresh marijuana. In the cellar they found a room full of marijuana plants organized in rows with lights above them. Each plant was in an individual pot. In the room was a network of lights, chemicals, a sophisticated hydro system and an advanced ventilation system,” Procopio explained.
Five other basement rooms, also containing marijuana plants, were found.
In total, 3,598 marijuana plants – or 560 pounds of marijuana – was seized. It had an estimated street value of more than $3 million.
The department’s Air Wing flew over the 14 acre property, but didn’t find any other evidence of marijuana cultivation.
Procopio said that the suspects didn’t return to the home over the next several days, but learned Wednesday that people were inside the home.
Troopers arrived and found the pickup truck in the driveway, along with another vehicle. The truck left a short time later and headed south on Route 8A.
A traffic stop was conducted and Mai and Huang were arrested, based on probable cause of trafficking marijuana.
Procopio said that authorities are still looking for the two other men who were with Mai in the truck on the first day of the investigation.
Bail was set at $100,000 for Mai and Huang and they are scheduled to appear in North Adams District Court on Friday.