$10 Million in Jersey-Grown Marijuana Seized in Five Location Bust
MAR 10 - Monroe Twp., Middlesex Co., N.J. – Attorney General Paula Dow today announced the seizure of more than $10 million worth of marijuana and the arrest of two men and a woman involved in a high tech cultivation operation. The announcement, at the Monroe Township Municipal Court building, marked the largest pot growing bust in the state’s history. In total, ten search warrants were executed over five days by numerous agencies in three counties. Along with a vast array of indoor cultivation equipment, 3,370 growing plants, 115 pounds of harvested marijuana and $65,000 cash was seized.
“While law enforcement in New Jersey has encountered high-tech indoor marijuana growing operations in the past, we have not seen anything to match the volume of production of this criminal enterprise,” said Attorney General Paula T. Dow. “These defendants might be called tenant farmers in one sense, because of their use of rental properties, but they certainly were not struggling to pay the rent with their harvest. They were allegedly tending a crop worth $10 million.”
“The Garden State is not a designation that we are willing to accept for the cultivation of Marijuana. Interagency cooperation turned this discovery of a large indoor grow into a massive operation that dismantled a major marijuana grower in the midst of our quiet residential communities,” said Major Matt Wilson Commanding Officer of the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section.
“This investigation started at the local level. A Monroe Township Patrol Officer utilizing his training, initiative and street sense uncovered a multimillion dollar drug operation,” said Chief John Kraivec of the Monroe Township Police Department.
“The ability to partner and share intelligence and resources in this investigation with, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, speaks volumes for police in New Jersey. I am extremely proud of Monroe Police Officer Thomas Lucasiewicz and every Officer, Investigator, Agent and Trooper that participated in this investigation,” Chief Kraivec added.
The investigation began on February 17th when Officer Thomas Lucasiewicz of the Monroe Township Police Department smelled the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the chimney of 558 Spotswood-Englishtown Road. Officer Lucasiewicz arrested Thu N. Nguyen, 44 when officers knocked on the door and were faced with overpowering evidence that Nguyen was burning unusable parts of pot plants in the home’s fireplace. A search warrant was issued and MTPD asked the NJSP Marijuana Eradication Squad for assistance. In the basement of the home were three cultivation areas, with another grow area set up in the master bedroom. A total of 1,064 marijuana plants in various stages of growth were taken from these areas. In addition, the garage area contained about 50 pounds of packaged pot. Four thousand dollars in cash was also seized. The home was also equipped with a sophisticated surveillance system consisting of four cameras to monitor the exterior of the residence.
Nguyen, a Canadian citizen, was taken to Monroe Twp. where he was charged with maintaining a marijuana cultivation facility, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, and theft of services (for stealing electricity to power the extensive system of grow lights). He was later lodged in Middlesex County Jail in default of $1 million full cash bail.
The next day (2/18/10), additional search warrants were issued for three locations and one vehicle. A search of 38 Robbins Rd. Millstone Township uncovered sophisticated grow areas with 504 actively growing plants and approximately 50 pounds of harvested bulk marijuana. Tuan A. Dang, 35, of Port Monmouth and Ngoc H. Bui (female), 35 of 187 Hidden Ct. Old Bridge were both located and arrested at this house. Dang and Bui, naturalized U.S. citizens, were both charged with maintaining a marijuana cultivation facility, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, and theft of services (electricity). They were each lodged in Monmouth County Jail in default of $1 million full cash bail.
That same day, a search of 47 Westley Rd. Old Bridge Township turned up 640 plants with 15 pounds of packaged marijuana in a vehicle parked in the garage of that home.
Also on February 18th, the home at 187 Hidden Ct. in Old Bridge was searched and found to contain $60,000 in cash, packaging materials (vacuum bags), which was seized along with documents including growth notebooks and fertilization notes. This home is the residence of Ngoc Bui.
On February 19th, the investigation continued with a search of 535 Beach Ave. in Manahawkin (Stafford Twp.). Marijuana plants numbering 464 were seized, along with numerous lights and timers. Additionally, equipment used to divert electricity prior to the utility’s meter was discovered.
Atlantic City Electric (southern New Jersey utility) responded to that location to render the altered electric service safe and to help investigate the theft of electricity. JCP&L was also brought in to help look into theft of electricity from other searched locations.
Also on February 19th, the home at 15 Stayman Ct. Manalapan was searched and found to contain another large marijuana cultivation operation with 698 plants and a quantity of grow equipment.
Other locations were searched and financial records were confiscated. Detectives believe that plants in this investigation were propagated by cloning them from other plants, using clippings rather than grown from seed.
Partnering agencies/units include:
Date Location of search warrant Evidence discovered