Three men arraigned for allegedly stealing $3,000 worth of hemp from Deerfield farm

  • Hemp growing in Whately, as seen in 2019. Three men were arraigned in Greenfield District Court Thursday after they allegedly stole roughly $3,000 worth of hemp from Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/30/2020 3:37:02 PM

GREENFIELD — Three men were arraigned in Greenfield District Court Thursday after they allegedly stole about $3,000 worth of hemp from Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield.

Jesus A. Gonzalez, 31, of Springfield, Reynaldo D. Figueroa, 32, of Springfield, and Luis A. Colon, 31, of Rutland, Vt., pleaded not guilty and were released on personal recognizance.

Gonzalez was charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, trespassing, larceny over $1,200, receiving stolen property over $1,200, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, speeding in violation of a special regulation and a marked lanes violation. Figueroa and Colon were charged with trespassing, larceny over $1,200 and receiving stolen property over $1,200.

According to a narrative filed by Deerfield Police Officer Timothy J. Boland Jr., he was on patrol near the hemp fields in southern Deerfield at roughly 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 15 when he noticed two vehicles — a gray Dodge minivan and a white Nissan SUV — parked at the Stillwater Bridge parking area. He reports the hemp fields on Sandgully and Stillwater roads are particularly vulnerable and have been the targets of recent crop thefts.

Boland reports he dropped off a co-worker at her vehicle on Hawks Road and made his way back to the parking area and saw only the SUV remained. As he used his computer to look up the SUV’s registered owner, the minivan drove past him on Stillwater Road. Boland reports he caught up with the minivan near Bar-Way Farm and smelled what he believed to be burning marijuana. However, he reports he did not feel comfortable initiating a stop based on this odor because Stillwater Road is flanked by acres of growing hemp that have an overpowering smell.

After Boland encountered his shift partner, he reports they caught up to the van near Pelican Products. According to Boland’s narrative, the van was traveling 37 mph in a 35 mph zone and did not slow down when it entered a 25 mph zone near Frontier Regional School. Boland initiated a traffic stop after the tires on the van’s driver’s side crossed the double yellow lines by about 3 feet as the van took the sharp right curve near 103 North Main St.

Boland reports he saw three men wearing mostly black clothes and two large leaf bags in the van’s rear cargo area as he approached the vehicle. As the driver, later identified as Gonzalez, rolled down his window, Boland states he smelled a strong odor of marijuana and an even stronger odor of unburned marijuana or hemp. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but hemp has 0.3 or less THC.

According to Boland, all three men lit cigarettes, which his training and experience has taught him is done in an attempt to mask the smell of alcohol or drugs. Boland notes the front passenger — later identified as Figueroa — was avoiding eye contact and sweating profusely.

According to Boland, he asked Gonzalez where they were coming from and the rear passenger, later identified as Colon, said the were simply driving around. Boland reports he mentioned he smelled marijuana and Colon allegedly told him they had smoked a blunt — a hollowed-out cigar filled with marijuana — about 15 minutes prior.

Boland learned Colon had recently been arrested for assaults, breaking and entering at nighttime, firearm possession, assault and battery with a handgun, and narcotics possession. He was also previously charged with receiving stolen property and possession of burglarious tools in addition to a felony kidnapping conviction in 2007. Figueroa had 36 adult arraignments and multiple convictions for distribution of narcotics.

Additionally, Gonzalez had a suspended Connecticut driver’s license, according to Boland’s report. He was arrested after reportedly performing poorly during field sobriety tests.

Boland estimates 30 to 40 pounds of hemp (worth an estimated $3,000) in the leaf bags were found during vehicle inventory. Colon and Figueroa, who were wearing dirty shoes, were then taken into custody. Boland writes in his report that “a pair of garden shears “with a green leafy/crystal substance was discovered in Mr. Figueroa’s pocket.” All three men reportedly told police they had no idea about the bags of hemp. A machete was discovered on the driver’s side floorboard.

Greenfield Police Officer Michael McDowell, a drug recognition expert, was called to assist at the scene. All the men’s shoes were collected as evidence and footprints on weed matting in the Sandgully Road fields where hemp had recently been cut down matched the suspects’ shoes.

The three men are scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 7.

Reach Dom Poli at 413-772-0261, ext. 262 or dpoli@recorder.com.




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