Major Bust

BUSTI – More than 500 marijuana plants were seized Tuesday morning in what authorities are calling a sophisticated growing operation in the town of Busti.

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s SWAT team, along with members of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force and the Lakewood-Busti Police Department, executed two search warrants.

The warrants, issued by Chautauqua County Court Judge John T. Ward, were executed simultaneously at 515 and 529 Busti-Sugar Grove Road.

John A. Boardman, 31, and Jennifer A. Grundstrom, 29, both of 529 Busti-Sugar Grove Road, will be charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance charges. Marijuana and controlled substances were located inside the residence.

Brad A. Strickland, 26, of 515 Busti-Sugar Grove Road, and Boardman are facing second-degree criminal possession of marijuana charges. Deputies located 582 marijuana plants and a loaded shotgun at Strickland’s residence.

Marijuana seized Tuesday was valued at $500,000. The three suspects were expected to be charged once all evidence was seized, a news release on the pot bust stated.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace praised the two-month investigation by his office and the drug task force.

“It was a great effort by the SWAT team, the drug task force and Lakewood-Busti police,” Gerace said. “They were able to locate a substantial amount of marijuana.”

The sheriff asked anyone who notices illegal narcotics-related activity to call the drug task force at 800-344-8702 or their local police department.

“I can’t stress enough for people to call the tip line,” Gerace said.