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New Durham police seize $35,000 in marijuana

August 18, 2009
NEW DURHAM — A three-month investigation by New Durham's Police Department culminated last week in the arrest of a Merrymeeting Road resident and the seizure of a marijuana crop valued at $35,000.

Police announced Friday that 36-year-old Ronald Albert Jacques, Jr. of 70 Merrymeeting Road had been arrested Aug. 12 on charges of Unlawfully Manufacturing a Controlled Drug (a felony), Possession of a Controlled Drug with Intent to Distribute (also a felony), and Possession of a Controlled/Narcotic Drug (a misdemeanor).

Authorities were first alerted to the alleged marijuana-growing operation in the woods behind Jacques' home by an anonymous informant who stumbled upon the plants while scouting choice spots for the upcoming turkey hunting season, and who recognized what they were, having smoked marijuana himself in the past.

According to an affidavit he filed last week, Sgt. Jason Lamontagne paid a visit to the property after receiving the anonymous tip on May 6 and found 20 four-inch-high seedlings growing in a series of 11 pots.

Lamontagne returned to the scene a few days later, accompanied by Trooper Brian Trask of the State Police Drug Task Force, who confirmed that the suspicious plants were indeed marijuana.

Shortly after Trask's first visit, the state police placed Jacques' property under video surveillance and (according to Lamontagne's affidavit) captured footage of Jacques and two unidentified juveniles picking some of the plants and heading back down the trail toward the house.

After reviewing the footage on Aug. 12, Lamontagne was able to identify all three individuals. He used the video evidence to obtain a search warrant, and he and Trask returned to the scene and removed the remaining plants before conducting a search of Jacques' residence, where the affidvait claims they discovered rolling papers, a digital scale, homemade pipes, spoons and straws blanketed in an unidentified white residue, and scalpels, as well as a pair of marijuana plants drying in a camper behind the house and several more plants drying within the pages of a magazine.

According to Lamontagne, the 18 plants seized during last week's search would yield a street value of approximately $35,000.

Following his arraignment by video at Rochester District Court last week, Jacques (who has previously been convicted of witness tampering, assault, drug possession, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct) pleaded not guilty to the charge of Possession of a Controlled/Narcotic Drug.

No pleas were entered for the remaining two charges.

Given his extensive criminal background, police requested that Jacques be held on $5,000 cash bail.

Jacques was scheduled to appear in court for a probable cause hearing on the two felony charges yesterday (Aug. 19).

If he is convicted on all charges, he could face a maximum prison sentence of up to eight years.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

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