Busti 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.

Three people were taken into custody after 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, are facing 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.