SAGINAW (WJRT) - (03/21/17) - Charges have been handed down in a drug case that spans two Mid-Michigan counties and involves more than 20 people.
Twenty-one people were named in a court documents related to the St. Patrick's Day drug bust.
The Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team raided nine homes during the raid. One was in Flint Township, the other eight were in Saginaw County.
As of Tuesday afternoon, only 18 people had appeared in a Saginaw County District Court to be formally charged.
The defendants included 14 men and four women, and range in age from 26 to 59 years old. They have been charged with selling or making marijuana and conspiracy.
One man faces an additional charge of resisting a police officer.
The two main charges come with penalties of up to 15 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine.
In court, some of the defendants said they were making and selling medical marihuana.
Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Boyd says investigators are still trying to figure out if any of the defendants have a medical marihuana card. He adds even if they did, police believe they far exceeded any legal limits.
"Obviously, there's some claims that medical marihuana was involved. The statutes obviously have some prohibitions. And we're alleging in our complaints that those prohibitions were violated, and violated substantially," Boyd said.
Court documents show police found more than 200 marijuana plants, as well as more than 45 kilograms of finished product. Just to give you an idea of how much that is, 45 kilograms translates to just over 99 pounds.
Boyd cautions those are just preliminary numbers. He expects to have a better figure before the preliminary exam, which is scheduled for April 10.
There was an interpreter in the courtroom during the proceeding. None of the defendants speak fluent English. Many told police they were originally from Cuba.
Boyd says federal agencies have been contacted to determine if they are here legally, but their residency status doesn't impact the drug case at this point.
"The identification issue, it's really not a matter of our concern. You know, the federal authorities will do what they need to do in that regard. From our standpoint, we're only interested in prosecuting violations of state law," Boyd said.
Their unconfirmed residency status did play a role in bond. It was set at $1 million each.
Here are the names of those charged: