A Naugatuck man was one of four people arrested in what state police are calling the largest marijuana bust in Connecticut in at least a year.
Police say William Eichin, 41, of 183 Crestwood Drive, was part of an elaborate marijuana growing operation that the Connecticut State Police Narcotic Task Force broke up Monday. Police said the ring operated out of a home in a rural residential area of Canterbury, located in Windham County in northeastern Connecticut.
Police arrested four people in connection with the case and seized more than 1,000 marijuana plants worth more than $1.1 million on the street, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman.
“This is one of the largest marijuana busts in our state in recent time… it’s one that has connections from Danbury to Naugatuck to Clearwater, Florida,” he said. “Hopefully, we have put them out of business.”
The task force obtained information about 10 days ago that large amounts of marijuana were being grown at a single-family residence on 5.6 acres at 41 Raymond School House Road, Vance said.
Police used an Army National Guard helicopter to conduct aerial surveillance and discovered marijuana plants in various stages of growth. The marijuana was growing in pots around an in-ground swimming pool, in a greenhouse and in garden beds around the perimeter of a house. It was being dried and processed inside a barn, Vance said.
He said those arrested were expanding the greenhouse when the task force broke up the operation on Monday.
Vance said each room of the home and barn was used for various stages of the marijuana cultivation process.
“This was a very involved and sophisticated operation,” he said. “The bust will have a significant impact on the marijuana trade in Connecticut.”
All told, police seized 1,102 marijuana plants, $1,600 cash and numerous items of equipment utilized in the cultivation process.
Along with Eichin, the others arrested were Richard Houghtaling, 47, of 32 Fleetwood Drive, Danbury; Thomas Phravixay, 39, of 41 Raymond School House Road, Canterbury; and Sisouk Phravixay, 56, of 4811, 162nd Ave., North Clearwater, Fla.
They were charged with possession of more than four ounces of marijuana, cultivation of marijuana with intent to sell over one kilogram, operating a drug factory and conspiracy to commit cultivation of marijuana with intent to sell over one kilogram.
They were arraigned Tuesday in Danielson Superior Court. Eichin was released on a promise to appear on Sept. 23. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Sisouk Phravixay and Thomas Phravixay were released on $50,000 bonds and their cases were continued to Aug. 12 and Sept. 1, respectively. Houghtaling was released on a $25,000 bond and his case was continued until Sept. 23.
Vance said the investigation is ongoing.
“The most important part about this is we have developed information in this case,” he said. “As you continue to uncover records, you find names that could lead to additional information.”
Anyone with information regarding illegal narcotic activity is asked to call the Statewide Narcotics Task Force anonymous tip line at (800) 443-7847. All calls will remain confidential.