A 57-year-old man from Brooklyn has been charged with running a large-scale marijuana-growing operation at a Burlington County farm, authorities said.
The pot farm was discovered on rented property by a township assessor after the owner sought a tax break.
Weiming Liu, 57, was charged with first-degree manufacturing marijuana in a quantity of 25 pounds or more and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, according to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Chesterfield Police Chief Kyle Wilson.
More than 500 mature marijuana plants and more than 1,000 seedlings were discovered, they said.
Liu was taken into custody on Friday during a motor vehicle stop in Bordentown Township, Coffina and Wilson said.
Liu was released following a first appearance in Superior Court in Mount Holly.
An investigation began after the owner of the property, located in the 100 block of Chesterfield-Crosswicks Road, applied to the township for a tax assessment reduction.
The application was rejected after a peripheral inspection of the property by the municipal tax assessor determined it was not being used for farming or agricultural purposes. The land owner appealed, and a subsequent, more detailed on-site inspection led to the discovery of the marijuana growing operation, according to the prosecutor.
“We appreciate the tax assessor living up to the important motto, ‘If you see something, say something,’” Coffina said. “His information directly led to the interdiction of this substantial illegal drug operation.”
More than 500 mature plants were discovered growing in greenhouses, pole barns and other buildings on the property.
The estimated street value of the marijuana is nearly $725,000, Coffina and Wilson said.
More than 1,000 seedlings were also found, many of which were aided by a lighting and heating system to promote faster growth, they said.
Liu leased the land from the owner, who has not been charged in connection with the illegal activity being conducted on her property.
The county prosecutor’s office was assisted by Chesterfield police, Bordentown city and townshiip police and New Jersey State Police.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice’s free daily emails and news alerts.