Metro

After a feature in a weed magazine, two Mass. men arrested for illegally growing marijuana

Marijuana plants.
Bob Pearson for The Boston Globe
Marijuana plants.

Two Massachusetts men were charged in federal court in Springfield in connection with marijuana grow operations, months after they were featured in High Times, a magazine that covers the weed industry and culture.

Peter Molle, 35, of Holland was arrested Friday and charged with manufacturing marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. Eric Vallee, 38, of Sutton faces the same charges after a Dec. 15 arrest.

According to a statement from the US attorney’s office, a magazine article noted that Vallee regularly harvests 10 pounds of marijuana based on a cultivation timetable that would result in his harvesting hundreds of pounds of marijuana per year. Federal prosecutors also noted that the article mentions Vallee worked with Molle.

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“Both Valle and Molle used bank accounts that featured large amounts of cash deposits that were consistent with the proceeds of drug sales,” the attorney’s office said in a statement.

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A High Times article from February titled “New England’s Patriot Pot Growers” featured Vallee and made mention of Molle. The author of the piece visited a medical marijuana garden run by Vallee in Western Massachusetts. The story stated Vallee regularly harvests “10 pounds of medical cannabis from a space that has just 16 plants.”

A message left with High Times was not immediately returned late Friday afternoon. Attempts to reach Molle and Vallee were unsuccessful.

In February, law enforcement searched an Auburn home where Vallee lived at that time, a Sutton house where he previously lived, and a Holland home where Molle lived, prosecutors said.

Agents discovered “commercial style marijuana grow operations” at each of those locations, according to the statement.

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Authorities found more than 100 marijuana plants at Vallee’s Auburn home, more than 100 plants at Molle’s home, and more than 30 plants at the Sutton home.

Prosecutors allege that Vallee and Molle continued to “engage in substantial marijuana cultivation” even after the homes were searched.

More searches came earlier this month. On Dec. 12, authorities searched Vallee’s Sutton home and Molle’s Holland home. In both homes, “significant commercial-style marijuana grow operations were found” and “marijuana packaged for sale was recovered at Vallee’s home,” federal prosecutors said.

If convicted, Molle and Vallee could face a maximum of five years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine, according to the attorney’s office.

While marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, it is illegal under federal law. Earlier this month, state regulators said they are ready to authorize a wide variety of locations where consumers can buy and consume cannabis.

Joshua Miller and Dan Adams of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.