(STL.News) – Two individuals were arrested yesterday and charged in federal court in Springfield in connection with marijuana grow operations.
Weiqing Li, 41, and Li Qin Li, 49, were charged by criminal complaint with manufacturing marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. They are expected to make an initial appearance today via videoconference in federal court in Springfield.
According to the charging documents, since July 2019, law enforcement agents have been investigating the use of certain properties in and around Monson, Mass. and Palmer, Mass. for the large-scale cultivation of marijuana. Yesterday, during the execution of search warrants, federal agents discovered commercial-style marijuana grow operations at five properties. Over 700 marijuana plants were found at one residential property in Monson and over 800 marijuana plants were found at another residential property in Monson. It is further alleged that over 1,100 marijuana plants were found at warehouse in Monson, where Weiqing Li and Li Qin Li were located. In addition, over 900 marijuana plants were found in a residential property in Palmer and over 600 marijuana plants were found in another residential property in Palmer.
In a related action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture complaint against the two houses and warehouse located in Monson and the two houses in Palmer alleging that the properties are subject to forfeiture because they are being used, or are intended to be used, to facilitate the illegal cultivation of marijuana.
The charging statute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Office made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Monson and Palmer Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine G. Curley of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office is prosecuting the criminal case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol E. Head of Lelling’s Asset Recovery Unit is prosecuting the civil forfeiture action.
The details contained in the charging documents and the civil forfeiture complaint are allegations. The defendants are each presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.