Pawtucket Resident Sentenced for Operating Large-Scale Indoor Marijuana Growing Operation
More than 150 adult marijuana plants seized from a sophisticated growing operation inside a former Providence mill building
PROVIDENCE – Michael Watkins 35, of Pawtucket, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison for operating a large-scale marijuana growing operation inside a former mill building in Providence in August 2015, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
The sophisticated growing operation was discovered during an ongoing FBI Safe Streets Task Force investigation into multiple large-scale marijuana growing operations inside a former mill building at 725 Branch Avenue.
At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Watkins to serve 3 years supervised release upon completion of his term of incarceration. Watkins pleaded guilty on January 27, 2017, to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants and manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants.
According to court documents and information presented to the court, on August 12, 2015, the FBI Safe Street Task Force, with the assistance of DEA and the Rhode Island State Police, executed multiple court authorized search warrants in and around the Branch Avenue former mill building. Among the discoveries, law enforcement discovered and seized from inside Unit 133, 157 adult marijuana plants and a large amount of equipment used to produce marijuana, using hydroponic techniques.
The investigation determined that the marijuana growing equipment and plants discovered inside Unit 133 belonged to Michael Watkins.
Watkins was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on January 11, 2016. A federal indictment was returned on February 16, 2016, charging Watkins with conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants and manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha acknowledges and thanks the Providence Fire Department Arson Squad for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
on Twitter @USAO_RI