PORTLAND — A Boston man found with $30,000 in cash during a traffic stop on the Maine Turnpike two years ago pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to attempting to buy marijuana in Lewiston and intending to distribute it.

The case is connected to a 2018 drug sweep throughout the Twin Cities area.

Drug agents monitoring a federal wiretap captured Yehudi Pardo, 34, arranging to buy marijuana from Timmy Bellmore, 44, of Lewiston on Feb. 25, 2018, prosecutors said.

Pardo faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Bellmore pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana plants and marijuana involving 100 or more plants and kilograms of marijuana.

He faces between five and 40 years in prison on the felony charge and a fine of up to $5 million.

On Feb. 27, 2018, federal drug agents with search warrants raided more than 20 locations in the Twin Cities area where marijuana was grown and processed under the guise of the Maine Medical Marijuana Program, then sold over the course of three years to Maine and out-of-state customers who were not participants in the program, according to federal authorities.

In October 2018, a federal grand jury handed up a 41-count superseding indictment against more than a dozen suspects — most from Lewiston and Auburn — but also including men from Massachusetts and Vermont.

While recreational marijuana has since been legalized in Maine, it remains illegal under federal law.

According to court papers, Pardo texted Bellmore on Feb. 15, 2018, to order 250 small marijuana plants called “clones.”

A week later, agents watched by surveillance camera Pardo arriving at one of Bellmore’s Lewiston businesses, which prosecutors later said was used to launder drug proceeds.

That night, Pardo texted Bellmore to order “four pizzas and 3,000 pens.”

Pizza referred to pizza boxes that contained marijuana extract known as “dabs” or “shatter,” prosecutors said. Pens referred to smoking cartridges that contained marijuana extract liquid used in vaping devices.

Two days later, Pardo was northbound on the Maine Turnpike in his Toyota Tundra pickup truck with two dogs. Maine State Police were on the lookout for his truck.

Because of freezing rain, speeds were reduced to 45 mph. A canine officer pulled over the truck that was clocked at 66 mph. A drug agent who had been monitoring Pardo’s activities and knew of his texts with Bellmore told the trooper there was probable cause to stop the truck.

The trooper seized roughly $30,000 in cash from a satchel on the back seat as well as a handgun from the truck’s glove compartment, but no drugs. Her dog detected a backpack with marijuana residue.

Pardo told the trooper the cash was intended for the purchase of a Jeep for his little sister.

Defense attorneys sought to have the cash and gun suppressed as evidence, but a judge ruled against them.

In his plea agreement, Pardo waived his right to appeal any prison sentence of 13 months or less.

He remains free pending his May 27 sentencing.


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