WEST PARIS – Sneaking into a house early Thursday morning, police were able to surprise two men suspected of growing marijuana, waking them up to arrest them on felony charges of cultivating the illegal weed.
Police had been investigating Alan Hakala, 42, and his son, Joseph Hakala, who police said is in his 20s, for the past month, according to the Maine State Police.
After getting tipped off by multiple sources that the father and son could be growing marijuana indoors at 9 Snow Falls Road, police started covert surveillance of the home, said Gerry Baril of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency on Thursday.
On one occasion, two police officers saw plants on the back porch, drying in the sun.
“An agent and deputy sheriff actually observed marijuana plants in the back of the property,” Baril said. The Hakalas “took them out to sun to take advantage of the warm weather within the last two weeks. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back – direct observation by two people.”
When police raided the home early Thursday morning, they found roughly 215 marijuana plants and 23 guns, which were placed in almost every room of the house near the plants, some propped up against walls, with ammunition nearby.
“The reason for a 3 a.m. arrest was because of the number of firearms present at the scene,” Baril said. He said the sources told police the Hakalas would occasionally discharge the firearms in the back of the house.
“We also knew they were not working full-time and home all hours of the night, and that they might have customers,” Baril said. “Not knowing who we would encounter or how, the tactical team decided this was the best time.”
The men were woken up in their beds and did not resist arrest. In the father’s room were an assortment of shotguns, rifles and handguns, and in the son’s room were more shotguns, rifles and pistols, Baril said.
Along with a charge of aggravated cultivation of marijuana, Alan Hakala was also charged with possessing firearms by a felon. He had a burglary conviction in Florida in the early 1980s which prevents him from ever owning a firearm in Maine, police said. The aggravation part of the charge stems from the number of firearms found at the residence.
Baril said the 215 plants could yield between 50 and 100 pounds of usable marijuana.
The men were taken to Oxford County Jail. Their bail was set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 surety each. They were still being held at 8 p.m., a jailer said.
“It’s just the beginning of the growing season,” Baril said.