METUCHEN, NJ—Two men have been arrested and charged with operating a marijuana growing and distribution business, according to the authorities.
The two men were allegedly growing marijuana in a secluded warehouse located off of Liberty Street in Metuchen, near the Dismal Swamp Preserve and the borough's border with Edison Township.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, and the Chiefs of the Metuchen and Monroe Police Departments jointly announced the bust on May 23.
The men were arrested and charged one day earlier, after a six-week investigation led by the Metuchen Police Department.
But authorities may have overstated the significance of the bust, claiming to have taken down a "multi-million dollar marijuana growing and distribution business."
The MCPO has not responded to multiple inquiries regarding how the figure of "multi-million dollar" figure was calculated, but their press release said authorities seized 161 marijuana plants, 16 pounds of "distribution-ready" marijuana, in addition to production equipment and packaging material.
At roughly $2,000 to $4,000 per pound, the distribution-ready marijuana is worth at most $64,000. Even if the plants are valued at $2,000 each, their "street value" would only equate to $322,000.
In recent years, New Jersey residents have grown increasingly supportive of marijuana legalization.
Yet, local and federal authorities continue to focus significant efforts, taxpayer dollars, and resources into marijuana-related crime, even as the opioid epidemic takes a major toll on the area.
While no one has ever overdosed on marijuana, the number of heroin-related deaths in New Jersey has skyrocketed over the last several years, according to NJ.com.
According to the announcement, Metuchen Police were aided several police agencies including the Monroe Township Police Department, Woodbridge Police Department's Canine Unit, the New Jersey State Police, and the Homeland Security Investigations division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The defendants are both 42 years old, and have the same last name, but are not related.
Eddie Chan and Albert Chan were brought to the Middlesex County Jail on May 23, and charged with several drug offenses, according to the state's court system:
- first-degree manufacturing of marijuana
- first-degree operation of a controlled dangerous substances production facility
- third degree distribution of controlled dangerous substances near a school
The press release from police, however, mentioned different charges, including:
- possesion and intention to distribute marijuana
- possession and intent to distribute marijuana in a school zone
- maintaining a drug facility
- possession of drug-manufacturing and distribution equipment
Albert Chan was released on May 26, under the conditions of home confinement and electronic monitoring by way of an ankle bracelet, as this was his first offense.
Eddie Chan is still detained pending a pretrial detention motion filed by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO). The motion is scheduled to be heard on June 2.
While the MCPO press release said that both men were residents of Queens, the state judiciary told New Brunswick Today that Albert Chan resides in Bellrose, NY, and Eddie Chan resides on Robert Court in Monroe Township.
The court system also revealed the precise location of the warehouse: 160-5C Liberty Street.
The company that owns that space, and another adjacent one, is called Hoi Yin Holding, Inc. According to property records, it is based out of the same $564,000 home on Robert Court where Eddie Chan lives.