Skip to main content

Op Ed # 645 Triad Weed: How 100 Chinese Communist Marijuana Growers Took Over Much Of Rural Maine

  • Op Ed # 645 Triad Weed: How 100 Chinese Communist Marijuana Growers Took Over Much Of Rural Maine

By Capt Joseph R. John, November 13, 2023

Communist China has been exploiting Maine’s lax Marijuana State Laws and the Biden/Obama administration’s allowance of Communist China to take advantage of the Biden/Obama administration’s failure to enforce US Federal Immigration Laws in the State of Maine or on the wide-open southern border of the United States.

During the last three years, more than 100 properties and 270 individual sites in rural Maine have been purchased by Chinese Communist individuals and Chinese Communist Front Organizations.  The properties are in Somerset County, Penobscot County, Kennebec County, Franklin County, Androscoggin County, and Oxford County in the State of Maine; the purchases occurred while the Biden/Obama administration allowed it to happen. 

According to an unclassified memo from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), illicit Marijuana growing operations are now underway and under the control of Communist Chinese Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs).  The DEA should have terminated those unlicensed and illicit marijuana growing operations three years ago and arrested the operators; the DEA was obviously prevented from doing so.

According to that DHS memo, Chinese Communist foreign nationals operate the sites, some of whom are in the US illegally, and cannot even speak English.  The DHS memo stated, they believe the marijuana growing network earns an estimated income of $4.37 billion per year, some of which is returned to entities in Communist China.

The Biden administration has ignored the purchase and operation of those Communist Chinese criminal operations that pose a threat to the National Security of the United States.  For the last two years, Maine’s Congressional delegation has been calling upon the Department of Justice and the FBI to shutter the marijuana growing operation.  Attorney General Merrick Garland has yet to respond in writing, and although the FBI has been investigating the operation for two years, FBI Director Wray has declined to make any comments.

According to DHS, the Communist Chinese TCOs use the proceeds of the marijuana growing operations to fund other illegal and criminal activities in the United States, including funding narcotics trafficking and human trafficking.  Over the last three years, with the help of the Biden/Obama administration, Communist China has been operating similar criminal marijuana growing operations in California and other states in violation of US Federal Immigration Laws and the state laws where they are operating.

The below listed article provides specific details about the marijuana growing operation in the State of Maine.  

Copyright by Capt Joseph R. John.  All Rights Reserved.  The material can only be posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author.  It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without the permission from the author.        


Triad Weed: How Chinese Marijuana Grows Took Over Rural Maine


Illegal Chinese marijuana growers have taken over much of rural Maine.

The government is either incapable — or unwilling — to do anything about it.


The Maine Wire has identified more than 100 properties that are part of 
a sprawling network of Chinese-owned sites operating as unlicensed, 
illicit cannabis growing operations in rural Maine.

According to an unclassified memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS) obtained by the Maine Wire, the illicit grows are 
operated by Asian Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs).

The properties cover Somerset County, Penobscot County, Kennebec County, 
Franklin County, Androscoggin County, and Oxford County.

The sites were purchased over the past three years by single adults, 
primarily from New York and Massachusetts, using cash or financing 
arranged through a handful of mortgage companies.

The Maine Wire investigation began following the leak of a separate DHS 
memo that revealed the existence of more than 270 such sites in Maine.

That memo, first reported by Jennie Taer of the Daily Caller News 
Foundation, offered the first public confirmation of what law 
enforcement officials have long known, but what neighbors to these 
properties and legal marijuana entrepreneurs have only suspected.

Namely, that Chinese foreign nationals are exploiting Maine’s lax 
marijuana laws, the Biden Administration’s immigration policies, and 
cheap real estate in rural Maine to grow a fortune using exploited 
illegal alien laborers.

Nationwide, there are approximately 749 properties that DHS has linked 
to Asian TCOs.

The leaked memo included a spreadsheet, which has not been made public, 
that identified “270 properties within [Maine] that are actively used by 
the Chinese in relation to their operations.”

Local, state, county, and federal officials, speaking mostly on the 
condition of anonymity, have confirmed to the Maine Wire that various 
law enforcement agencies have known about this foreign network of 
illicit drug manufacturing and distribution for more than two years.

On Sept. 15, DHS sent the following memo to Maine law enforcement asking 
for help gathering intel on the properties:

We are requesting a response by state, county, and/or local law 
enforcement officials with any information regarding illegal marijuana 
grows being operated in their areas by suspected Asian Transnational 
Criminal Organizations (TCO). This collection effort is supporting a 
national intelligence gathering initiative to identify a comprehensive 
picture of the threat posed to national security by Asian TCOs operating 
illegally in the United States.

A typical response may include:

     confirmation that this activity is occurring

     the number of suspected grows in your area of responsibility

     reports by concerned citizens or local officials relating to 
illegal grow operations by Asian TCOs

     or any other information respondents may deem of value.

“There are hundreds of these operations occurring throughout the state. 
It’s upsetting to those who live near these operations, and even those 
who are following Maine laws and procedures,” Penobscot County Sheriff 
Troy Morton told the DCNF.

Maine’s congressional delegation has called upon the Department of 
Justice to shutter the operation, but Attorney General Merrick Garland 
has yet to respond in writing.

Most of the properties were acquired after Maine legalized the sale of 
recreational pot in 2020.

According to the DHS memos, the sites are operated by Chinese foreign 
nationals, some who are in the U.S. illegally. DHS believes the network 
earns an estimated total income of $4.37 billion per year, some of which 
is returned to entities in the People’s Republic of China.

The locations of the sites — and the names of their owners — have not 
been publicly released.
Triad Weed in Rural Maine

Marijuana grown at these sites is notorious in Maine’s legal cannabis 
industry as “Triad weed.”

“When I say they function like a mafia, it is absolutely true,” one 
longtime veteran of Maine’s medicinal and recreational pot industry told 
the Maine Wire. “They have a very intricate network.”

Scrupulous dispensaries avoid purchasing or selling marijuana from the 
illicit grows because it has a reputation for containing pesticides, 
fungicides, and other banned or harmful contaminants.

But legal growers all agree that at least some Triad weed is entering 
Maine markets.

“I would say most of their product ends up skipping across the border,” 
the industry veteran said. “But the shit that stays in Maine is what is 
helping to contribute to the collapse of flower prices.”

The operators of these foreign-owned sites are also notorious around 
grow supply shops in Maine, where they are often found buying thousands 
of dollars in cultivation supplies.

Speaking little to no English, the operators acquire supplies by 
pointing at images on their phones or by having someone out-of-state 
translate over the phone.

According to DHS, the Asian TCOs use the proceeds of the marijuana grows 
to fund other illegal activities, including narcotics trafficking and 
human trafficking.

The DCNF reported, based on Maine and federal sources, that many of the 
participants in the operation are either in the U.S. illegally or have 
applied for asylum status or permanent residency.

Morton, the sheriff of Penobscot County, told DCNF most individuals 
under investigation for being involved in illegal marijuana grows aren’t 
U.S. citizens.

“Regardless of where the individuals are from, the true problem involves 
conflicting state and federal laws. We also have little to no oversight, 
allowing for criminal activity to occur at a high degree,” Morton said.

Morton declined to elaborate on those comments, instead referring the 
Maine Wire to the U.S. Attorney of Maine.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney of Maine declined to comment for 
this story.

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the agency that 
published the original leaked memo, declined to comment on the memo.

“The US Border Patrol coordinates closely with our interagency partners 
when conducting investigations and when taking enforcement actions,” the 
spokesperson said. “It would not be appropriate for the USBP to comment 
on behalf of other agencies.”

“Furthermore, Border Patrol does not publicly disclose sources of 
information, investigative methods, or other information that may 
jeopardize the safety of witnesses or otherwise compromise any 
investigation,” said the spokesperson.

The Maine Wire offered to provide the U.S. Attorney of Maine and the 
Maine State Police with a list of illicit foreign-owned marijuana grows 
in Maine prior to the publication of this story, but both declined.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has been investigating 
illegal Chinese marijuana grows in Maine for at least two years, 
declined to comment for this story.
Finding Maine’s Illegal Grow Sites — and Their Owners

A review of real estate records, physical site inspections, and 
interviews with hundreds of Mainers has identified more than 100 
Chinese-owned properties in Maine — all purchased by single men and 
women from out-of-state, primarily Brooklyn and Staten Island, over the 
past three years.

The buyers often pay cash, but dozens of the properties carry mortgages 
from just a few finance companies.

The sites are almost all in rural Maine and show evidence of active or 
recently active marijuana grow operations, including grow supplies and 
the obvious smell of marijuana even at a considerable distance.

Almost all of the sites have had extensive modifications to houses, 
garages, and outbuildings to support marijuana growing, including the 
installation of 300- or 400-amp commercial grade electricity service, 
consumer-owned utility poles, and multiple heat pumps.

Neighbors confirm that the houses frequently smell of marijuana and 
several times a year, a white van with New York or Massachusetts plates 
will arrive and depart. Neighbors also reported, in some cases, seeing 
tractor-trailer trucks delivering grow supplies.

The properties the Maine Wire has identified account for thousands of 
acres of land in rural Maine and tens of millions of dollars worth of 
real estate. Marijuana industry experts said a standard 2,500 square 
foot house in Maine could, if properly renovated into a marijuana grow, 
generate $1 million to $3 million in marijuana per year.

Although most of the properties are owned under the names of Chinese men 
and women from New York or Massachusetts, some of them are owned through 

The Maine Wire was not able to independently confirm the immigration or 
citizenship status of the owners of these properties; however, nothing 
in U.S. or Maine law would prevent a Chinese national from purchasing a 
property in Maine, even if they were in the country illegally.

The Maine Wire has also discovered records tying multiple sites 
together, including car registrations, municipal waste permits, real 
estate records, and other public records, which, taken together, support 
the determination that the grow sites are connected and centrally 
controlled under an umbrella organization.

At a grow site in Fairfield, for example, there was a Toyota Corolla 
registered to the owner of a separate site in Garland. That same vehicle 
was later observed at the site in Garland.

At a different Fairfield site, there was a truck with Mass. plates that 
had a dump permit sticker for Dexter (40 miles East) and a dump sticker 
for Wilton (40 miles West).

Law enforcement sources confirmed that they are aware of the existence 
of multiple sites in both Dexter and Wilton.

Several of the properties that show obvious signs of active or recently 
active marijuana growing operations have been purchased by Chinese 
individuals from New York or Massachusetts only to be resold shortly 
after to other Chinese individuals from New York or Brooklyn.

Indoor Marijuana Cultivation 101

Before we get to the sites the Maine Wire identified, it will be helpful 
to go over some basics of growing marijuana indoors.

The chief necessity is abundant electricity. That electricity is used to 
power the grow lights, which consume substantially more energy than your 
average LED lighting.

But because those lights also generate a tremendous amount of heat, the 
grow rooms require cooling and ventilation equipment.

The ideal temperature for growing marijuana is 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Without significant air conditioning, the lighting would make a grow 
room too hot.

The primary way the sites in Maine cool their grow rooms and control 
humidity is through heat pumps.

The combined electricity consumption of the lighting and the heat pumps 
requires robust upgrades to electrical infrastructure at a typical 
residential property.

Most of the sites identified by the Maine Wire show evidence of recent 
electrical upgrades and the addition of multiple heat pumps.

Linesmen from Central Maine Power and local electricians both shared, on 
the condition of anonymity, stories about being asked to upgrade 
residential buildings with the power capacity typically only needed by 
energy-intensive businesses.

“Usually it’s like a 10 KVA transformer that they overload out of a, 
like a regular house. You won’t even be able to tell,” said a CMP 
Linesman. “And so we gotta go upgrade and usually one person will come 
out and stare at us the whole time. They usually don’t know any English”

One electrician in central Maine was asked to install commercial grade 
service to a mobile home — a job he refused because he found the 
customers, who did not speak English, too sketchy.

“I met with them one time a couple years back but didn’t like what I was 
seeing,” the electrician said.

The two most common electrical upgrades encountered at these sites are 
new 300- or 400-amp breaker boxes and consumer-owned utility poles.

Without such upgrades, running a grow operation on common residential 
wiring risks starting a fire, as has happened at sites in Canaan, 
Winterport, and Vassalboro.

In addition to electricity, the indoor grow rooms need to seal out 
ambient light, which is why all of the windows are boarded up at these 

Ambient light during a dark-cycle can cause young marijuana plants to 
turn into hermaphrodites, which decreases the potency of the flower.

Here are some more in-depth looks at sites the Maine Wire has identified 
based on real estate records, photographs provided by sources, public 
records, and interviews with law enforcement and residents of the towns.

629 Norridgewock Road, Fairfield

This 4-bed, 2-bath house was purchased by 32-year-old Juan Lin on July 
30, 2021, according to Somerset Registry of Deeds records.

The windows are obscured, not with curtains or blinds, but with a type 
of foil foam board used to keep out ambient light.

On the back of the house, there are three active heat pumps, two on the 
main house and one on the semi-detached garage.

The home also boasts an electrical entrance that far exceeds the 
standard residential electrical equipment.

A master electrician licensed to work in Maine said the electrical 
equipment on the side of the home appeared to be a 400-amp service with 
two 200-amp manual disconnects — an expensive arrangement that is rare 
to install on a residential property.

In layman’s terms, the house is consuming far more energy than your 
average Maine home.

It also reeks of pot, according to neighbors.

Inside the home, photos show clear evidence of a marijuana growing 
operation. (Note: these were provided by a source who asked to remain 

Legal Maine cultivators consulted by the Maine Wire assessed that this 
is what a standard grow operation looks like, noting the chemical 
containers, the newly installed benching on either side of the room, and 
and wiring.

At the time the more recent photos were taken, there were two vehicles 
on the property. A charcoal gray truck with Massachusetts license plates 
and a large white cargo van, also with Mass. plates.

According to public records, the only other address associated with Lin 
is in Quincy, Mass., where he appears to live with several family members.

Though Lin owns the property, there is no evidence that he has himself 
participated in the cultivation or trafficking of marijuana.

The Maine Wire has identified more than 100 similar sites in Maine that 
all fit many elements of the same pattern: 1) purchased in the past 
three years by a single Chinese men or women from New York or 
Massachusetts; 2) strong odor of marijuana even from a distance of 100s 
of feet; 3) rubbish from commercial grow products; 4) massive upgrades 
to the electrical capacity of the property; 5) property has large 
garage, outbuilding, or barn; 6) all windows are completely blacked out; 
7) multiple security cameras; and 8) multiple heat pumps running constantly.

4 Smith Road & 43 Cape Cod Hill Road, New Sharon

In New Sharon (population: 1,500), the Maine Wire identified two obvious 
marijuana grows purchased within the last three years.

A property at 4 Smith Road was purchased in July 2021 by Wen Bin Zhao, 
34, of Brooklyn.

The house bears the tell-tale signs: all the windows boarded up, 
electrical upgrades, and, most tellingly, an overpowering odor of 
marijuana that could be easily detected from hundreds of feet away.

Similarly, this massive property at 43 Cape Cod Hill Road was purchased 
in June 2021 by Muhua Chen, 38, of Staten Island, N.Y.

During a visit in October, windows visible from the public road and the 
neighbors driveway appeared completely boarded up and the odor of 
marijuana was powerful (though that could have been because the site is 
about 200 yards from 5 Smith Road).

Although Chen and Zhao’s names appear on the deeds of these properties, 
there is no evidence that they have themselves cultivated or trafficked 
illicit marijuana.

Madison is host to at least three active indoor marijuana growing 
operations. The operations are at 383 Lakewood Road, 288 Golf Course 
Road, and 21 Golf Course Road.

When the Maine Wire visited these three properties attempting to 
interview the occupants, we observed the tell-tale signs of marijuana 
grows — blacked out windows, electrical upgrades, multiple heatpumps, 
and the obvious odor of marijuana.

The 21 Golf Course Road is owned by Changju Wu and was previously owned 
by Joe Hao Liang, who also owns 383 Lakewood Road.

The house at 288 Golf Course Road was owned by Yanyi Wu, 30.

Wu, who previously lived in Brooklyn, purchased the property in Oct. 
2020 and sold it this September to Jamie Yajing Chen, also previously 
from Brooklyn.

Wu is also the owner of a house in Embden. Although Wu obtained 
financing for the Embden location, the two Madison properties were 
purchased in cash.

Like the Fairfield location, the property at 383 Lakewood Rd. has 
undergone significant renovations since it was purchased.

Photos available on Zillow from before Wu acquired the property show it 
had no heat pumps installed on the front of the building.

While attempting to contact Wu at the house for an interview, the Maine 
Wire observed three heat pumps on the front of the building and one on 
the back. Comparing the before and after pictures also shows that the 
garage has had new power service installed within the past three years.

When the Maine Wire visited, every window was blacked out with sheet 
rock and blankets, and the smell of marijuana was apparent.

A roughly five minute drive from the Lakewood Road properties brings you 
to Golf Course Road.

At 288 Golf Course Road, the house smelled strongly marijuana when the 
Maine Wire attempted to contact the owner.

A vent on the side of the garage was pumping hot air that smelled 
strongly of marijuana.

Although a woman came out of the house to talk, conducting an interview 
was impossible because she only spoke Mandarin.

The occupant, a middle-aged Chinese woman, called an unidentified person 
who attempted to translate and conveyed that they were uninterested in 

The windows on the house and the garage were all boarded up with either 
foam insulation or sheetrock, and the home had commercial grade 
electrical service. The home also had multiple security cameras.

Like with other properties, before and after pictures show significant 
changes to the electrical equipment on the house following its purchase.

On the same road is another site that a neighbor described as a 
Chinese-owned marijuana growing operation.

The neighbor, who asked not to be named, said it was common knowledge on 
the road that the house was being used to grow marijuana. The aroma left 
little reason to doubt his opinion.

Comparing older pictures of the property to how it appears now shows 
significant modifications to the five car garage, including window 
covers to exclude ambient light.

Fires are not uncommon at these sites.

This house in Winterport was purchased in August 2021 by Wanzhen Huang, 
50, of Brooklyn, N.Y. The purchase price was $182,000, and Zillow 
currently estimates it at $348,900, but Zillow might not know about the 
unrepaired fire damage. This is how the home looks now.

When the Maine Wire visited the home seeking an interview with the 
occupants, it appeared abandoned.

This dilapidated Ohio Hill Road house was purchased by Yifeng Yu, 38, of 
El Monte, Calif., in February of 2020. Images provided to the Maine Wire 
by a source who asked to remain anonymous show marijuana growing 
equipment littering the property, including plant pots, fertilizer 
containers, and soil supplements.

In Chesterville, the Maine Wire observed the strong odor of marijuana at 
this property.

A source, who asked to remain anonymous, said CBP has visited this 
property and even used a hidden camera to photograph it over a period of 

A CBP agent declined to comment when asked about this property.

Harming Legal Growers

Legal marijuana cultivators told the Maine Wire that licensed operators 
have long believed that at least some weed grown illegally at sites 
controlled by Chinese organized crime is making into Maine’s legal 
marijuana market.

The influx of cheap Chinese weed — which cannabis aficionados have 
dubbed “Triad Weed” — is, they believe, depressing prices.

“[Marijuana prices] went from $2,800 during COVID and right before 
COVID,” said one medicinal grower. “Now, for a good pound of flower, 
it’s like $1,250. So your profit on that after your CMP bill, your 
profit on that is like, you know, $600.”

“All these little guys and all these caregivers that are doing the right 
thing are getting shut out and shutting down,” they said.

The plummeting price for legal cannabis in Maine coincides well with 
when Chinese buyers began scooping up rural Maine properties and 
converting them into grow operations.

How Much Money Are These Sites Making?

First off: How much marijuana could each site produce?

According to industry experts the Maine Wire consulted, the amount of 
marijuana produced at a given spot would depend on the skill of the 
growers, the resources at their disposal, and how much of the home and 
garage has been dedicated to grow rooms.

Assuming maximum efficiency, a 2,500 square-foot house could accommodate 
50 grow lights, which would produce 100 pounds of processed marijuana 
per harvest. Such an operation could expect four to twelve harvests per 
year, or 400 to 1,200 pounds of marijuana flower.

How much is that in U.S. dollars? That depends on where the flower is 
ultimately sold. If the flower is sold into Maine’s barely regulated 
medicinal market, it’s almost certainly being sold for less than $800 
per pound. However, if the flower is being trafficked back to NYC, the 
black market price is closer to $3,000 per pound.

Although there are a considerable range of factors, multiple individuals 
told the Maine Wire that it was realistic to conclude that an operation 
of this type could fetch $1.2M to $3.6M, not including the considerable 
costs of electricity, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and, in some 
cases, mortgage payments.

This will be the first in a series of stories from the Maine Wire 
concerning Chinese organized crime in Maine.

Future articles in this series will focus on the financial arrangements 
that have allowed Chinese buyers to purchase so much real estate in 
Maine, the political response to this problem from Augusta, how the 
Office of Cannabis Policy understands the problem, and what steps law 
enforcement is taking.

Edward Tomic and Graham Pollard contributed to this report.