This photo, provided by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, shows the interior of the residence on West Ridge Road in Cornville on Jan. 17. Authorities arrested three people and confiscated more than 750 cannabis plants from the residence, which was described as “a very well-organized operation” by Somerset Sheriff Dale Lancaster. Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

Three people were arrested and hundreds of cannabis plants were confiscated Wednesday in Somerset County in what officials described as another well-organized, illegal marijuana growing operation in rural Maine.

Yuling Mei

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster announced the arrests Wednesday at the county commissioners’ meeting, saying 750 growing marijuana plants and 90 pounds of processed marijuana buds were seized at a residence on West Ridge Road in Cornville.

Lancaster later said in a statement to the news media that the arrests were made after a yearlong investigation into illegal cannabis growing in the area.

“We do have a problem in Somerset County, and today was the first step,” Lancaster said. “I think we have been able to solidify a plan on moving forward to be more aggressive in trying to deter some of these illegal grows.”

Officials arrested Huansheng Mai, 75; Yuling Mei, 63; and Yiming Hu, 68, according to Lancaster. Each was charged with illegal cultivation of marijuana and unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs with more than 500 plants. The charges are Class B offenses.

Yiming Hu

The arrests were made in cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies, Lancaster said, with the Drug Enforcement Agency, Border Patrol and U.S. Attorney’s Office assisting in the investigation.


Huansheng Mai

Officials across Maine say they have been investigating unlicensed marijuana growers.

Earlier this month, five people were arrested and thousands of plants were seized as law enforcement officials raided illegal growing sites at residences in Kennebec County.

It was not clear Wednesday if the growing operation in Cornville was connected to those in China and Belgrade or to the reports of illegal Chinese-run marijuana growing operations in Maine.

Lancaster noted at the county commissioners’ meeting that “it was a very well-organized operation.”

Officials have speculated there could be as many as 400 such operations statewide.

This past summer, Maine’s congressional delegation asked the U.S. Department of Justice to take action against such operations, citing a report that the operations could be worth more than $4 billion.

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