WHITING, Maine — Maine Drug Enforcement agents assigned to the Down East District Task Force following a tip found about 50 marijuana plants growing in a wooded area last month and arrested a Lubec man on charges of cultivating the plants.
MDEA Division Commander Darrell Crandall said Wednesday that on May 27 agents investigating information they had received found the plants growing in buckets and also encountered Thomas Tibbs, 42, of Lubec in the area of the plants.
“Tibbs had been staying in a nearby camper, from which agents seized a loaded shotgun, a loaded .308 caliber military style rifle with a high capacity magazine, a little more than one quarter pound of processed marijuana and scales,” Crandall said in a press release.
Tibbs was arrested and charged with aggravated trafficking and cultivation of marijuana that same day and was taken to the Washington County Jail where he posted $5,000 unsecured bail.
The charge was elevated to aggravated because a firearm was associated with the alleged crime, according to the release.
Tibbs is scheduled to appear in Washington County Superior Court on July 27.
Crandall said the number of arrests this year on charges of cultivating marijuana has increased over last year.
Although still early in the growing season, this is the fourth outdoor growing operation MDEA has seized in Maine this spring. The three previous seizures were accompanied by three arrests in the past 30 days, the seizure of 92 plants and three additional firearms, Crandall said.
MDEA agents also have seized 31 indoor growing operations so far this year, with a combined total of more than 2,330 plants and 56 pounds of processed product.
Agents have arrested 41 suspects associated with these operations since the first of the year and seized an additional 13 firearms.
“Last year we saw a decrease in the charging and cultivation offenses,” Crandall said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “But so far this year the numbers are up over last year.”
Crandall said he could not speculate on why there has been an increase in growing operations.
Anyone encountering marijuana being grown is advised not to investigate or linger in the area as growers sometimes “booby trap” their grow sites, the release said.
Anyone with information on cultivation or other drug crimes should call MDEA at 800-452-6457.