WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. State Police on Thursday raided a suspected illegal pot operation in a number of garage bays in a West Warwick building owned by the family company of a former state representative.
Maj. Tim Sanzi said police pulled about 50 plants from 41 Industrial Lane at about 5 a.m. Four men were arrested as a result.
Jordon Leighty, 37, of Warwick, was charged with possession with intent to deliver a schedule I controlled substance (marijuana), possession of marijuana in excess of 5 kilograms, possession with intent to deliver a schedule I controlled substance (BHO), possession of a schedule II controlled substance, and controlled substance conspiracy.
Nicholas Aldrich, 37, of Warwick, was charged with two counts of possession of marijuana (1-5 kilograms) and single counts of possession with intent to deliver a schedule I controlled substance (marijuana), possession with intent to deliver a schedule I controlled substance (BHO), and controlled substance conspiracy.
Eric Swanson, 39, and Noah Swanson, 36, both of Coventry, were charged with controlled substance conspiracy.
The property is owned by 4N Properties, an LLC owned by the family of former state Rep. Jared Nunes of West Warwick. Nunes told Target 12 he “didn’t know anything” about the raid or his tenants’ activities.
“I had nothing to do with the [alleged] illegal activity,” he said.
Nunes, who decided not to run for re-election after serving four terms on Smith Hill, has an office in the building and said he rents out the raided area.
Nunes said he saw several unmarked cars at the building this morning but no one told him what was going on during the incident.
Troopers also searched homes on Norfolk Road and Windemere Way in Warwick, Matteson Road and Flat River Road in Coventry, and Dyer Avenue in North Kingstown, according to police.
In total, they seized 65 mature marijuana plants, 11 pounds of usable marijuana and 4.75 pounds of butane honey oil (BHO) as well as marijuana growing and packaging equipment and $29,000 in cash.
Sanzi called the confiscated marijuana a “significant amount.” Troopers also took a “butane element” used to extract oil from the potent derivative known as butane hash oil, or by its street name: “dabs.”
The extraction process uses butane gas and an open flame and can be dangerous, according to Sanzi.
“There’s a danger they could cause a structure fire trying to work the plants down to an oil product,” Sanzi said.
Illegal dabs manufacturing has been blamed for a number of fires in Rhode Island including a 2015 explosion in a home in South Kingstown that killed two men.
State police said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be forthcoming.