In a recent drug bust, a task force consisting of federal, state and local authorities successfully raided a residence in rural Connecticut, uncovering a massive psychedelic mushroom operation estimated to be worth $8.5 million.
The discovery of the illegal operation in Burlington, allegedly run by 21-year-old Weston Soule, led to his arrest on multiple charges.
The tip that led to the bust suggested that Soule was operating a “clandestine psilocybin mushroom growing operation” at his residence, which prompted the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Hartford Task Force and Statewide Narcotics North Central Office detectives to investigate the property.
On the morning of November 2, law enforcement officials arrived at the scene, where they encountered ventilation equipment commonly used in illicit drug laboratories.
Upon meeting Soule, they proceeded to a detached garage on the property, where they discovered a vast mushroom-growing operation.
Soule initially claimed that the mushrooms he was cultivating were not illegal and refused to allow a search of his home. Subsequently, detectives obtained a search warrant from the State Superior Court in New Britain, which led them to discover a mushroom-growing factory containing psilocybin mushrooms in various stages of growth.
Photographs released by the Connecticut State Police revealed numerous large bags filled with what are commonly known as “shrooms” or “magic mushrooms.” Authorities estimated the value of the seized mushrooms at a staggering $8.5 million.
Following the discovery, Soule confessed to investigators that the mushrooms were indeed psilocybin, a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Schedule 1 substances are defined as drugs, substances and chemicals not currently accepted for medical use and having a high potential for abuse.
Soule has been charged with possession with intent to sell/distribute narcotics and operation of a drug factory, and was detained with bail set at $250,000. He was scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in New Britain the following day for his arraignment.
Several states and cities in the United States have recently been re-evaluating their stance on psychedelic mushrooms and their active ingredient, psilocybin. While some regions have decriminalized these substances and explored their potential for treating mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Connecticut’s attempt to decriminalize small amounts of psilocybin in 2023 failed in the State Senate.
The use of psychedelics as a therapeutic option has gained momentum in recent years, with the federal Food and Drug Administration designating psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for treatment-resistant depression in 2019. Additionally, there has been a shift in public opinion in support of the therapeutic use of psychedelics, particularly among military veterans struggling with trauma and other mental health conditions.