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Police link rash of New England cannabis facility burglary

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Police have linked a series of burglaries targeting cannabis dispensaries in New England to three suspects in Massachusetts, According to the report From Portland Press Herald. Law enforcement officers say a New Bedford, Massachusetts, man and two Boston brothers are suspects in a series of burglaries of licensed cannabis businesses dating back to 2020.

Police began linking the crimes after a robbery of cannabis farms in Gorham, Maine, in October last year. In that tomb, three individuals wearing face coverings, hats, and long sleeves made their way through an exterior wall of a company located in an industrial park while a fourth person stood watching outside. The three robbers inside the building moved cautiously from room to room, trying to avoid detection by the motion sensors. When the team finally left after two hours, they took 30 pounds of cannabis and 500 cartridges of THC with them.

During the investigation, the police reviewed a video clip from the security cameras of the cannabis plantations. One of the cameras captured a Massachusetts license plate picture of a pickup truck that entered the parking lot two hours before the crime. Inside the building, a camera microphone recorded the thieves talking to each other.

“Where (expletive) is Dario?” One thief said to the other clearly.

“He puts the boxes in the truck,” replied the partner.

The results of the investigation are three suspects

The license plate led law enforcement officers to Dario Almeida, a 21-year-old man whose address is in New Bedford, Massachusetts. When Gorham Police Detective Stephen Hinckley called New Bedford Police, they gave him the cell phone number of Almeida, who had recently been in contact with the department.

A week later, police in New Bedford contacted Hinckley by email to inform him that Almeida and his brother Rafael were suspects in a similar robbery of a cannabis farm in Warwick, Rhode Island, where the same truck was videotaped. Police believe the brothers are from South Boston and the third suspect is from New Bedford, according to to Mass Live.

After reaching out to other New England law enforcement agencies, Hinckley learned of seven similar burglaries that have occurred in Maine since June of last year. Another cannabis trade in Gorham was also burgled by criminals who cut down an exterior wall on Thanksgiving Eve in 2020. Burglars also targeted the cannabis business in South Portland, Maine. In January, a judge in Portland, Maine, issued a search warrant to obtain evidence including location data from one of the suspects’ cellphones at the times when two burglaries occurred. No arrests have been made so far, and the case is still under investigation.

Police in South Portland and Warwick did not respond to reporters’ questions about the burglaries. Gorham Police Chief Christopher Sanborn also declined to comment on the string of robberies.

“This is an open investigation that we are currently working on,” Sanborn said. “I’m sorry, but I can’t comment further at the moment.”

Maine’s cannabis regulatory agency, the Office of Marijuana Policy, requires licensed cannabis businesses to report burglaries, thefts, and other crimes. But David Heydrich, a spokesman for the agency, said many companies are not familiar with the procedures for filing such reports. The reports received by the regulator are confidential and no analysis of the information they contain has been conducted by the agency.

“We are not a law enforcement entity, and our role in regulating cannabis is to ensure that the licensee and registrant comply with Maine adult and medical use laws with marijuana laws,” Heydrich wrote in response to a request for information on reports of crime in cannabis companies. “Thefts and burglaries are crimes, and the best source of information about criminal activity has always been law enforcement.”

An executive at Tetrapoint LLC, a South Portland-based cannabis security company that funnels pot and cash to cannabis companies, told Portland Press Herald Many businesses are quieting Maine’s reputation as a low-crime state to become complacent with security. But he said the threat to the cannabis trade remains.

“The trend is to say, only half an hour from the bank, why do we pay people to drive there?” said the CEO, who requested anonymity to prevent him from being robbed while on the job. “We have customers next to a bank, and they are still using our services.”

The CEO also noted that while bot continues to be illegal at the federal level, many local police departments treat the cannabis business like other crime victims.

“In many different communities, we have found local law enforcement to be very friendly as they lead new business,” the security official said. “Some people may not be particularly happy about the industry, but it’s here, it’s now and it’s happening.”

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