GOP Sen. Collins Grills FBI On 'Serious Problem' Of Chinese Organized Crime In Illegal Cannabis Cultivation In Maine

Zinger Key Points
  • Sen. Susan Collins appeals to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month. This week, the FBI got a grilling.
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray says the FBI seeing more ties between illicit marijuana operations in Maine and Chinese organized crime.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) continues to push federal authorities for more information about illegal marijuana growing operations in Maine and China’s potential involvement. Last month she appealed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

This week, the FBI got a grilling.

“This is a serious problem, and our county, state and local law enforcement have been working with federal officials, but they are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task,” Collins said to FBI director Christopher Wray.

Wray acknowledged that the FBI is seeing more ties between many of these operations and Chinese organized crime, especially in rural communities that could be seen as an attractive place to set up illegal cultivation sites, reported WABI TV.

“Our assessment is that it’s a combination of the fact that it is activity that can be done relatively cheaply, and by comparison to other drugs in the United States, the consequences that they face from a legal perspective are not as severe as that they might be in other countries where they might also want to operate," Wray said. "So, it makes for an attractive business proposition.”

Wray added the FBI is starting to see illegal grows on tribal lands as well, although it’s unclear if that's the case in in Maine.

Collins, vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, has said on several occasions that illegal cannabis operations are all over the northern two-thirds of Maine.

“According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2024 assessment, there’s been a notable uptick in the number of illicit marijuana cultivation sites linked to Chinese and other Asian organized crime groups. That includes my state of Maine, where between 100 and 200 sites have been identified,” said Collins at last month's hearing to review the fiscal year 2025 budget.

19th Bust Of The Year

Collins brought up a Thursday bust — the 19th this year — where authorities found 1,500 recently harvested marijuana plants, 30 pounds of processed marijuana and illicit drug-related materials.

The house, located next to a daycare center, was owned is Shelly W. Leung of Brooklyn, N.Y. Records showed Leung acquired the house in 2021 from Hua Kai Yu and Shu Fen Lin.

The Somerset County Sheriff's Department, according to the, said the bust was part of an ongoing investigation into the sprawling network of drug trafficking sites run by Asian Transnational Criminal Organizations.

Photo: Courtesy Somerset County Sheriff

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsLegalGlobalTop Stories@suestrachan No. 3Antony BlinkenCannabis MaineChinaChinese organized crimeChristopher WrayFBIMaineStories That MatterSusan Collins
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