Seven charged with trafficking 55 pounds of pot in Amherst

  • Amherst police and members of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force arrested seven people Wednesday at this 11,000-square-foot warehouse on Bay Road on charges of marijuana trafficking. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

AMHERST — Amherst Police and members of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force arrested seven men early Wednesday morning, Oct. 18, each on felony charges of marijuana trafficking over 50 pounds, according to an Amherst Police Department statement.

The arrests, which took place shortly after 2 a.m., are related to an investigation of an approximately 11,000-square-foot warehouse at 1210 Bay Road.

Greg Long, 48, of South Hadley, Christopher Jackson, 48, of Charlemont, Brian Long, 45, of Belchertown, Gabriel Colwell-Lafleur, 41, of Buckland, Aiden Hasbrouck, 24, of Belchertown, Nathan Mosher, 38, of Montague and Torben Larsen, 48, of Westminster, Vermont, were arrested, the statement said.

They were arraigned at Eastern Hampshire District Court on Oct. 18, each entering a not guilty plea, according to public court documents. All have been released, two on personal recognizance and five on bail of $500.

The arrests followed an investigation of suspicious vehicles at the Bay Road warehouse on Tuesday at 6:28 p.m., during which multiple individuals were observed inside the warehouse, the police statement said. The incident is still being investigated, and there are “lots of variables,” Amherst police said when contacted Thursday morning. Police declined to reveal details of the arrests other than those previously released through their statement.

Forced entry

According to court documents, police had applied for and received a search warrant for the Bay Road property earlier Wednesday morning, the purpose of which was to “search and seize marijuana and any evidence related to the cultivation of marijuana.” They executed that warrant at approximately 2:05 a.m. 

Prior to entering the warehouse, police made two announcements over a public address system identifying themselves as police, informing the warehouse occupants that they had a search warrant and requesting that the occupants exit the building with their hands up, according to court documents. 

The two police announcements received no response, but police heard what they believed to be someone coming to the door, and then heard “the inside door close and there was no further communication,” according to court documents. 

Police were able to enter the building through the garage of the warehouse, then entered through a second door where they found the warehouse occupants, who were then “secured and taken into custody without incident,” the court documents said. 

Police searched the warehouse and seized marijuana, packaging material, items used in marijuana cultivation and cash, according to the documents. Criminal complaints against the defendants specify the marijuana or marijuana mixture weighed in at approximately 55 pounds. 

Neighbors interviewed, who did not wish to give their names, said they were surprised the warehouse was being used for illegal activities because police frequently park on the property in a bid to catch speeding drivers. Neighbors also said that strange odors coming from the warehouse have been normal in the past, as the warehouse used to be the site of scientific testing on rabbits. 

One neighbor said he awoke at the time of the arrests to see “a big commotion” at the warehouse. He thought that the warehouse might have been broken into, and believed police had somehow blocked the entrance to the property during the arrest and execution of the warrant.

The property, which is mostly secluded by trees and shrubbery, was deserted on Thursday afternoon. There were no signs of the arrests or any struggle, although a distinct odor of marijuana lingered around the warehouse garage. The building is windowless and features cameras and no-trespassing signs.

Contacted Thursday, Oct. 19, Brian Long said he would be giving “no comments at this time.” The Gazette was unsuccessful in reaching the other defendants by phone.

One of the court-appointed defense attorneys, Colin Keefe, who is representing Colwell-Lafleur, said he was given less than a one-page paragraph on the matter with “absolutely no information” and that was “insufficient to establish anything.”

The defendants are all due in cou rt on Nov. 13 for pretrial hearings. The defendants face a minimum sentence of one year imprisonment — and a possible maximum of 15 years — if convicted.