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Family pot operation busted in Peabody

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Owning and operating a family business can be a gratifying endeavor, especially when it achieves success. The Damico family of Peabody appears to have reached some measure of success in their family business but, unfortunately ran into difficulties when local law enforcement officials shut it down this week.

Justin, John and Joseph Damico all pleaded not guilty to charges including possession with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to violate drug laws. This follows the discovery in a Peabody apartment and private home of a massive marijuana cultivation operation. Justin Damico is the nephew of John and Joseph, who are brothers, according to court documents.

Law enforcement officials, including agents from the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized about 500 marijuana plants growing inside and outside of the buildings. The estimated street value of the haul is estimated as exceeding $500,000.

Massachusetts is in the process of implementing a new medical marijuana law that was passed in November 2012. The law will allow appropriately licensed organizations to develop and manage growing operations to support the sale of the drug in “clinics”. It appears the Damicos have the skills one of these new organizations may need. Unfortunately because the law has not yet been fully implemented, and they do not have a license to cultivate marijuana, they are being charged under current criminal statutes. Involvement of the DEA and ATF&E complicates the picture as the Damicos may be facing federal charges related to the bust.

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