Maui resident facing federal marijuana charges flees area
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
A Maui man wanted by federal authorities on charges of growing marijuana inside a rented Makawao house has fled the jurisdiction, according to court papers filed yesterday.
Eric Welander, 36, was arrested by Maui police last year and secretly indicted Feb. 25 by a federal grand jury for cultivating more than 1,000 marijuana plants.
The indictment was unsealed yesterday after Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Thomas notified the Honolulu federal court that "there is reliable information to believe that (Welander) has fled the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution."
Thomas asked that the federal indictment be unsealed so it can be "entered into various law enforcement databases that will assist the government in locating the whereabouts of the defendant."
Thomas declined to discuss details of the case.
Maui police discovered 1,197 marijuana plants growing inside a Makawao home rented by Welander and 35 plants in the backyard and on a deck. Also found on the property were fluorescent and high−pressure sodium "grow lights," fans and other equipment commonly used to cultivate marijuana plants, a loaded shotgun and ammunition, hashish, psilocybin mushrooms and $458 in cash, according to the Maui News.
State charges lodged against Welander last year included commercial promotion of marijuana and felony possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The status of the state case was not immediately available. Welander was released from custody last year after posting $145,000 bail.