A Laurel man was busted for growing marijuana at a Riverhead greenhouse Tuesday afternoon after Riverhead Town police and the East End Drug Task Force found more than 50 marijuana plants on the property, according to a Riverhead police statement.
Police searched the Koppert Cress greenhouse on the corner of Sound Avenue and Horton Avenue with a warrant and discovered 57 plants, as well as a box truck used to transport the plants, according to the statement. Some of the plants were discovered on the property, while others were found in the truck, police said.
All of the plants were in a “grown phase” and had not yet been harvested, police said.
Anton Van De Wetering, 43, of Laurel was arrested and charged with two counts of Unlicensed Growing of Canabis, a class “A” misdemeanor, according to the statement. Police said additional charges will be filed once the marijuana plants are analyzed and weighed by the Suffolk County Crime Lab.
Mr. Van de Wetering is the son of 82-year-old Peter Van de Wetering, who founded Van de Wetering Greenhouses in 1958. The greenhouses have produced the tulips that line Park Avenue for years, and the company was featured in an April New York Times article.
The younger Van de Wetering, who was the longtime manager of Van de Wetering Greenhouses, is “no longer affiliated in any way with Van de Wetering Greenhouses,” said a company representative.
Anton Van de Wetering left the company over a year ago, the spokesman said.
While at the scene Tuesday afternoon, police Lt. David Lessard said authorities believed contraband was “brought onto the property.” Police later said the East End Drug Task Force received a tip from a confidential informant about the marijuana.
A man who answered the phone listed for the Koppert Cress company said he had “no idea what was going on” at the Sound Avenue greenhouse. Koppert Cress bought the property searched by police from the Talmage family in 2012.
The East End Drug Task Force is headed by the district attorney’s office and comprises law enforcement personnel from across the county’s five East End towns.
A Suffolk County police helicopter was called in to assist during the investigation and Riverhead police were seen walking through the parking lot of the greenhouse, with some patrol cars leaving and returning to the scene.