BURLINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A man was arrested on Thursday for allegedly running an illegal psilocybin mushroom-growing operation worth approximately $8.5 million in Burlington, according to police.
“This is one of the largest mushroom grows that I’ve seen in my 23-year law enforcement career,” Sgt. Anthony Gordon with Connecticut State Police’s Special Investigation.
The Drug Enforcement Administration Hartford Task Force and detectives responded to a home on Lyon Road at 9 a.m. Thursday after a caller said the resident was allegedly running a clandestine psilocybin mushroom-growing operation.
Connecticut State Police arrested 21-year-old Weston Soule after finding a clandestine mushroom-growing factory in the home.
“Back in the spring, maybe April, it was still kind of cold out, and they were running air conditioners in the house,” Burlington resident Lee Hornfischer said. “It was four air conditioners, first floor and second floor. During the daytime, there were more cars than at nighttime, so it almost seemed like people were working there as opposed to living there.”
When police arrived at the home, investigators said officers saw ventilation equipment throughout the home that matched those used in clandestine laboratories.
Investigators went with Soule to a detached garage on the property, where detectives said they saw a large mushroom-growing operation. Soule claimed that the type of mushrooms he was growing were not illegal, police said.
Some neighbors also said they noticed people going from the garage to the house during the day but didn’t think anything of it.
“They could’ve had a business in the garage, you know, doing crafts for all I know,” Hornfischer said.
According to state police, Soule did not consent to a search of his home Thursday morning. Detectives were then granted a search warrant and entered the home.
Inside the home, officers said they found a clandestine mushroom-growing factory with psilocybin mushrooms in various stages of growth.
“There were about 1,700 three-kilogram bags of what is commonly referred to as magic mushrooms,” Gordon said.
While Gordon could not show his face on camera, he said that the inside of the home was covered in mushrooms.
“One small area with a bed and a T.V. and the entire remainder of the residence was being purposed to grow mushrooms,” Gordon said.
Soule admitted that the mushrooms were psilocybin and was arrested, according to police.
“He was extremely cooperative, very laidback, intelligent, no criminal history to speak of,” Gordon said. “Sort of wasted talent; seemed like a really smart guy.”
According to state police, Soule rented the property, and the homeowner told police they did not know about the drug factory.
Soule was charged with possession with intent to sell/distribute narcotics and operation of a drug factory. He posted a $250,000 cash/surety bond and is due in New Britain Superior Court on Nov. 16.