Warren County sheriff's officers seized a total of nearly 136 pounds of marijuana late Sunday and early Monday in two separate traffic stops involving people from outside the area who were transporting large quantities of the drug through the region, police said.
In one case, three women from Ontario had car problems and were transferring garbage bags full of marijuana from one car to another when sheriff's Patrol Officer Terry Combs spotted them, said Warren County Sheriff Bud York.
Combs had followed them because he saw them turn onto a dead-end road in Lake George where the Sheriff's Office's firing range is located and he was curious about what they were doing.
In all, the three had 126 pounds when Combs arrested them at 9:15 p.m., York said. It was believed to be the single biggest marijuana seizure in Warren County's history.
Each was charged with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a felony, and sent to Warren County Jail for lack of bail.
Three-and-one-half hours later, four Massachusetts residents were pulled over for on Main Street in Warrensburg by sheriff's Patrol Officer Jeremy Coon after Coon spotted them swerving and crossing the center line, York said.
Coon smelled marijuana, and 9.6 pounds of marijuana was found in a duffel bag in the car's trunk, police said.
One occupant of the car ran off as Coon was taking them into custody, prompting a several-hour manhunt that ended when he was arrested in a wooded area near Jacob's & Toney Meats.
In all, the marijuana police confiscated was worth as much as $500,000 on the street, York said.
York said police believe both groups bought marijuana through the Akwesasne/St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation, which straddles the U.S.-Canadian border in Franklin County. Its unsecured border has long been seen as a major source of drug trafficking into the U.S.
York said the three women in the first case were traveling in two separate cars, and the car with the marijuana in it was having problems, so they stopped to transfer the drugs into the other vehicle when Combs spotted them.
Charged in connection with that seizure were Cornwall, Ontario residents Kendra Theoret, 22, Kayla Ann C. Snyder, 20, and Cassey O'Byrne, 28.
All three were being held in Warren County Jail without bail.
"We believe they may have come across the border illegally," York said. "We're still talking to them and working with ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) to try to figure that out."
They were apparently headed to the New York City area.
In the second case, the teen who fled, 19-year-old Rian Waters of Ware, Mass., was charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a felony, and the misdemeanor of resisting arrest, according to the Sheriff's Office. He was being held in Warren County Jail for lack of bail.
Three passengers in the car, Benjamin M. Gorton, 18, Matthew A. Delisle, 19, and Jennifer E. Pease, 23, all of Ware, Mass., were charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor.
Gorton was being held in jail for lack of bail, while Delisle and Pease were released on $500 bail pending prosecution in Warrensburg Town Court.
Sheriff's officers were assisted by State Police and Bolton Police. Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan pointed out the arrests, and a Glens Falls Police arrest earlier Sunday in which 10 ounces of cocaine was seized, began as routine traffic stops.
"These started out as innocuous traffic stops but because of dogged police efforts, turned into something more," she said.
Because of a recent rise in drug arrests, Hogan said her office plans to train a second prosecutor to work with First Assistant District Attorney Jason Carusone on drug cases.