Lewiston police find 412 pot plants growing in Park Street building

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LEWISTON — Police arrested a Lewiston man Tuesday after more than 400 marijuana plants were found at his home in the former Club Rendezvous building on Park Street.

John Katula, 39, was charged with aggravated cultivation of marijuana after police responded to a fight at 16/18 Park St., Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a news release Wednesday. The building is next to Oak Park Apartments, a senior living facility.

Lewiston police officers found several men fighting about noon and while separating them and investigating they discovered a marijuana cultivation operation on three floors of the four-story building, McCausland said.

Police said Katula told investigators he was a medical marijuana caregiver licensed under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program. However, police said Katula’s caregiver registration card expired in June 2013, according to McCausland.

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Maine Drug Enforcement agents, who assisted in the investigation, found 412 mature, flowering marijuana plants along with an extensive lighting and ventilation system.

Police estimated the street value of the marijuana at more than $100,000, McCausland said.

Investigators said there were serious electrical issues involving the wiring of the growing equipment. Lewiston’s Code Enforcement Officer also responded and has contacted the building owner, police said.

Katula, who was the only person living in the building, was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where bail was set at $5,000. 

MDEA Commander Scott Pelletier said agents are seeing an increase in people taking advantage of the demand for marijuana for medicinal use.

In many cases, the growers are growing and selling much larger amounts of marijuana than authorized, Pelletier said. A caregiver is limited to growing for five patients, and each patient can have only six marijuana plants.

Anyone with information concerning this investigation or other suspected drug trafficking, should contact the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency or call the MDEA drug tip hot line at 800-452-6457.

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