Crime

NORTH EAST — A man remained in custody on Thursday after investigators confiscated more than 120 pounds of suspect marijuana with an estimated street value in excess of $420,000 during an Interstate 95 traffic stop near North East, according to Cecil County District Court records.

Maryland State Police Sgt. C. Conner started his investigation at approximately 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday, when he stopped a Toyota Sienna driven by the suspect — Xiao Dong Chen, 39, of Brooklyn, N.Y. — in the southbound lane of I-95, about a mile north of the North East/Rising Sun ramps, for allegedly following another vehicle too closely, police reported.

Conner detected an odor of marijuana coming from the Sienna while speaking with Chen, which led to the trooper conducting a probable-cause search of the mini-van, police said. The trooper found “five large laundry bags” containing smaller heat-sealed bags holding suspect marijuana and seized them, police added.

Field tests performed on samples of the substance contained inside those confiscated bags identified it as marijuana that, in total, weighed slightly more than 121 pounds, which translates to about 55 kilos or 54,975 grams, according to charging documents.

“Evidence and statements made by the defendant indicate that the marijuana was being transported from New York to Virginia. The estimated street value of the suspected marijuana is $424,000. Based on the sheer amount of the marijuana seized show an indication to distribute and is clearly over the 11 kilogram threshold for importation,” Connor outlines in his written statement of probable cause contained in court records.

Connor arrested Chen at the traffic stop scene, police reported.

Chen is facing four charges, including importing marijuana into the state, possession of a large amount of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, all of which are felonies with maximum penalties ranging from five to 25 years in prison, court records show.

He remained in custody on Thursday, awaiting his bail review hearing, according to court records, which do not indicate where Chen was being held or specify what, if any, bond amount had been set.

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