Law enforcement officials came across a staggering find after being tipped off about possible drug dealing: dozens of dog-food-size bags of psychedelic mushrooms worth an estimated $8.5 million at a home in rural Connecticut.
A drug task force including federal, state, and local authorities raided the property Thursday in Burlington, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Hartford, and charged a 21-year-old man with operating a drug factory and possession with intent to sell/distribute narcotics.
The bust came as two states and several cities in the U.S. have decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms and their active ingredient, psilocybin, which along with other psychedelics have emerged as an alternative treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
About 20 other states have active legislation on changing laws on psychedelic drugs, according to Psychedelic Alpha, a group that tracks such legislation.
In Connecticut, an attempt this year to decriminalize possession of small amounts of psilocybin died in the state Senate.
Authorities said they received a tip that the resident of the Burlington home was operating a psilocybin mushroom growing operation.
Federal, state and local law enforcement officials went to the property Thursday morning and said they saw ventilation equipment on the home that was consistent with items used in “clandestine laboratories.”
The man who was later arrested was at the home, and he showed them a detached garage where police said they saw a large mushroom growing operation.
The man, however, said the mushrooms were not illegal. He also declined to consent to a search of the home.
After police entered the home with the warrant, the man “admitted to investigators that the mushrooms were in fact psilocybin, which is a Schedule 1 controlled substance,” state police said in a statement.