Madawaska man guilty of marijuana smuggling

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BANGOR (AP) – A 56-year-old northern Maine man was convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and Social Security fraud charges for his involvement in a multimillion dollar marijuana distribution operation.

Michael Pelletier, formerly of Madawaska, was found guilty by a jury late Thursday evening following a six-day trial in U.S. District Court. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

Prosecutors said Pelletier and others in the operation imported more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana from Canada and distributed it throughout Maine between 2003 and 2006.

Pelletier’s former girlfriend, Kendra Cyr of Madawaska, and Adam Hafford of Westfield, who swam the St. John River carrying duffel bags stuffed full of marijuana, testified against Pelletier. Both were granted immunity from prosecution.

Cyr told the jury that when she lived with Pelletier, who uses a wheelchair, his only source of legitimate income was a monthly $550 Social Security check, but that he had stacks of cash hidden around the house.

Cyr said that while she lived with Pelletier, he used cash proceeds from the marijuana operation to make a partial payment on a house and buy personal watercraft, an all-terrain vehicle, horses and real estate.

Hafford, who is serving a 10-year federal sentence on a gun charge, testified that he helped Pelletier smuggle and distribute the drugs to customers in southern Maine. He told the jury that Pelletier paid $1,000 a pound for the marijuana and sold it for $2,400 to $2,800 a pound.

Pelletier was one of six people indicted last year in connection with the smuggling operation.

Four of the others have yet to go to trial.

Michael Easler, 27, of Madawaska, has pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com

AP-ES-07-21-07 1230EDT

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