ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Nearly 400 pounds of high-grade marijuana, smuggled from Canada by boat, was seized in the village of Alexandria Bay Wednesday. That’s according to Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly with Homeland Security Investigations.
Kelly said law enforcement officials raided a home in the Harbor Villas town house complex and found 224 pounds of marijuana inside as well as 169 pounds of pot in a van parked outside. A total of nine duffel bags filled with marijuana were found throughout the property, officials said.
The street value of the marijuana is estimated between $300,000 and $600,0000, according to federal officials. However, federal officials say its value on the street could be more than $1 million in some markets, like New York City. The Metro-Jefferson Drug Task Force says it’s worth more than $1 million in the north country.
“There’s a lot of vulnerable points up in the north country. A lot of the smuggling is epidemic and it’s also apathetic and it’s just based on supply and demand,” said Kelly.
A man identified as 36 year old En Li of New York City was charged with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana. He was arraigned in Watertown City Court Wednesday night and ordered held in the Jefferson County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail or $200,000 bond.
Kelly said Li rented out the Alexandria Bay home over the internet for a short amount of time.
“We believe this place was rented for the sole purpose of smuggling narcotics to the U.S. It’s part of a bigger conspiracy that operates in that area.,” said Kelly.
“I definitely thought something was going on. It’s pretty much quiet here...I came down and talked to the Alexandria Bay police officer and he said that there was a seizure and that the guy wouldn’t be coming back to the unit, which is a good thing,” said Walter Palmieri, who lives at Harbor Villas.
Kelly said the bust is potentially part of a bigger network involving maritime smuggling. He also said the marijuana is high-grade and hydroponically grown.
Involved in the bust were the Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection and Metro-Jefferson Drug Task Force, New York State Police, New York State Parks Police, and Alexandria Bay Police Department, with cooperation from Canadian authorities.