PORTLAND — A Lewiston man faces up to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to a drug charge stemming from a federal raid in February 2018.

Richard “Stitch” Daniels, 54, admitted in U.S. District Court to the felony charge of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants and 100 or more kilograms of marijuana.

The minimum penalty for the charge is five years in prison.

In a plea arrangement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss six additional counts from a grand jury indictment handed up in October 2018 against Daniels and more than a dozen other defendants, largely from the Twin Cities area.

The charge also carries a fine of up to $5 million.

After his release from prison, Daniels must be supervised for at least four years, according to the terms of his plea.

Daniels, who appeared Thursday sporting a closely trimmed beard, was clad in an orange jail suit, his ankles shackled. He waived his right to appeal his conviction and may only appeal a prison sentence of more than 80 months.

He told U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal he was entering his plea because he was guilty of the crime.

He said he had gone as far as the eighth grade in school, but had later earned a GED.

In addition to the charge he pleaded to Thursday, Daniels also had been charged with three counts of distribution of marijuana, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, manufacturing a controlled substance and distribution of LSD.

Prosecutors agreed to drop those charges.

Daniels was “an active participant in the conspiracy’s daily operations,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Joyce wrote in court documents, adding that Daniels “was involved with the distribution of bulk quantities of marijuana to the conspiracy’s customers.”

Joyce wrote that agents searched Daniels’ home and adjacent garage on Sabattus Street in Lewiston. They “seized distributable quantities of marijuana possessed by” Daniels.

During the search, agents also seized hash oil, approximately 41 sheets of butane hash oil, a money counter and other evidence of drug trafficking.

The aim of the February 2018 raids was to bust a medical marijuana growing operation that for more than two years had illegally sold surplus pot and derivatives, according to federal prosecutors.

They alleged a broad drug-trafficking organization grew and distributed large amounts of marijuana under the cover of — but in violation of — Maine’s medical marijuana program in the Twin Cities area. The organization sold marijuana to buyers who were not participants in the program and included out-of-state customers, according to prosecutors.

The raids saw federal drug agents execute more than 20 search warrants on properties in and around Lewiston and Auburn on Feb. 27, 2018.

Several defendants named in the indictment have already pleaded guilty.

Federal drug agents visit a home on Sabattus Street in Lewiston in February 2018 in connection with a marijuana distribution and manufacturing investigation. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal file photo

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