HOLYOKE — A traffic stop in Pelham last week led police to discover a converted Main Street firehouse in Holyoke filled with over 50 pounds of marijuana, exotic and high-end cars, a cache of 24 illegal guns and millions of dollars — a “base of operations” for an illicit pot operation, police say.
Cory A. Taylor, 41, of New Salem, was arrested in Pelham on Aug. 21 when state police allegedly found approximately 138 pounds of marijuana in a van he was driving, according to court documents. Taylor was brought to a local county jail; he was bailed out the same day, according to the Hampden district attorney’s office.
But after his arrest, investigators kept digging into Taylor’s background — eventually leading to the discovery of the former Holyoke firehouse he allegedly used as a “base of operations” for an illegal marijuana operation, according to a search warrant application written by Trooper Sergio D. Figueiredo and filed in Holyoke District Court.
Taylor did not appear for his Monday arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown and is considered “armed and dangerous,” according to the district attorney’s office and court records.
According to a police report written by State Trooper William Medina that was included in court documents, Taylor was pulled over around 1:31 p.m. on Aug. 21 in Pelham for allegedly using a cell phone while driving. Medina wrote that when he approached Taylor’s van, he smelled fresh marijuana and noticed six green shrink-wrapped containers in the back of the van that were “about the size of hay bales.”
Taylor allowed police to inspect the inside of his van, Medina wrote. Medina said he opened one of the boxes and noticed it was packaged to avoid detection with sealed plastic bags containing what was believed to be marijuana inside. A search of the vehicle by police allegedly yielded 138 bags of suspected marijuana weighing around one to two pounds each, brass knuckles and a FedEx uniform and magnetic sign, according to court documents.
Based on the amount of marijuana found in the van, the Massachusetts State Police Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency were called to assist, according to the district attorney’s office.
Taylor allegedly initially told police that he was paid to receive the marijuana and deliver them to a man named “Juan” at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Figueiredo wrote that Taylor said he had a source in California who shipped approximately six bales of marijuana to his mother’s house in New Salem.
Police gained consent to search a house at 2 Fay Road in New Salem that his mother owns, according to property records. A large garage on the property was found to contain 37 cars valued at over $1 million, the district attorney’s office said. The majority of them were older Toyotas; one car was wrapped in plastic shrink wrap, court documents say. Taylor’s mother told police that she was not aware if her son had a job, that she was aware her son received large boxes but never opened them, Figueiredo wrote.
Taylor was eventually brought to the Hampshire County House of Correction in Northampton on Aug. 21 where bail was set at $2,000 plus fees.
Investigators learned that Taylor had been tied to previous law enforcement investigations in the past at 452 Main St. in Holyoke, so a search warrant for that address was obtained and executed on Saturday, Aug. 22.
The district attorney’s office said the Main Street property is an old converted firehouse with significant high-end renovations. Inside the property, police allegedly found eight exotic high-end cars, as well as 24 guns, ammunition, several million dollars in cash and over 50 pounds of marijuana hidden in built-in compartments.
Taylor originally was charged after his arrest with trafficking in marijuana, carrying a dangerous weapon and various traffic violations. He was subsequently charged with improper storage of a large capacity firearm, possession of a high capacity magazine, possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number while committing a felony, commission of a felony while armed, possession of ammunition without a license, money laundering and 24 counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, the district attorney’s office said. A complete inventory of the property is being processed and additional charges may be pending, police said.
“The illicit marijuana market is thriving as evidenced by the large amounts of product and currency involved in this arrest. The danger posed and threat to public safety is evident, the suspect involved felt the need to possess an arsenal to defend this lucrative business,” Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said in a statement. “Thank you to all the agencies involved in removing a very significant amount of illegal guns off of our streets.”
The property at 452 Main St. in Holyoke was sold to Taylor in 2010 for $165,000, according to records filed with the Hampden County Registry of Deeds. He created a trust a few months later and transferred the property to it for $1, records show.
According to the application written by Figueiredo, Taylor had previously been found guilty on marijuana charges in California and was sentenced to probation. He is also a “well known marijuana trafficker” in the area, according to an officer with the Hampden County Narcotics Task Force cited by Figueiredo.
Police are actively looking for Taylor. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office (413) 505-5993 or anonymously utilize Text-a-Tip by texting the word CRIMES (2-7-4-6-3-7) and type the world SOLVE followed by the information.
Michael Connors can be reached at email@example.com.