Published June 03. 2014 2:51PM Updated June 03. 2014 11:32PM
State police watched a North Stonington residence for six months and compared its electrical usage with similar homes in the area after receiving a tip that its occupant, 35-year-old Zebulon L. Caswell, was growing marijuana at his Stillman Road apartment.
Caswell, arrested last month and released on a $75,000 bond, pleaded not guilty Tuesday when he made his first appearance in the New London court where serious felonies are heard. He is charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana within 1,500 feet of a school, sale of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is represented by attorney Michael L. Cozzolino.
An arrest warrant affidavit written by North Stonington resident trooper Timothy Donahue details the investigation that began in late 2012 after a Southington narcotics detective reported that a source told him Caswell, who lives in an apartment over a detached garage at his uncle’s home at 3 Stillman Road, was operating a “marijuana grow house.”
Working with other troopers, the Statewide Narcotics Task Force and the Hartford office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Donahue conducted surveillance of the property between April and October 2013 and observed that the garage windows were blacked out from the inside, that the garage lights appeared to be excessively bright and were on all night and into the morning, according to the affidavit. The DEA subpoenaed the electrical bills for the property, which indicated the electrical bill totaled from $479 to about $600 a month between July 2012 and July 2013.
The bills showed excessive electrical usage consistent with the consumption needed to operate an indoor marijuana grow, according to the affidavit. Compared to similar-sized homes within a half mile, the property used five to 10 times more electricity.
On Oct. 7, 2013, a DEA agent saw Caswell leave his apartment carrying a long, rectangular box and a bright yellow envelope. Caswell brought the envelope to the local post office and headed east on Route 2, where a trooper pulled him over in a gas station parking lot for a motor vehicle violation, according to the affidavit. The trooper observed drug paraphernalia “in plain view” in Caswell’s Lincoln Continental, and Caswell consented to a search of the car, according to the affidavit. Police K9 Peruan alerted to several areas of the car and troopers found a small amount of marijuana and several orange pills later identified as Adderall, an amphetamine often prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The rectangular box contained 25 feet of HVAC tubing commonly used in marijuana grow houses, according to the affidavit.
The police intercepted the package that Caswell had mailed from the post office and found it was addressed to a woman in Clear Lake, Calif., and contained eight Adderall pills within a box of orange Tic Tac mints. They obtained a search warrant for Caswell’s garage-apartment and found what they characterized as a small-scale marijuana growing operation, with mature and drying plants and trimmings, light, water and air filtration systems, plant trimmings and seedlings. They seized a total of 40 pounds of marijuana along with three amphetamine pills and five Suboxone pills for which Caswell did not have a prescription, according to the warrant.
— Karen Florin