Dealing During COVID-19: Marylander With 100 Pounds of Cannabis Arrested

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On April 3, Kayla Messinese, a 24 year-old resident of Edgewater, Maryland was arrested in King Of Prussia in Pennsylvania for, police say, attempting to deliver 100 pounds of cannabis worth $200,000 dollars. They cite “a joint investigation into large-scale drug trafficking,” but do not mention specifically how they were made aware of this attempted delivery.

According to police, the Upper Merion Township Police Department Special Investigations Unit and the Montgomery County Detective Bureau learned that Messinese would be driving to King Of Prussia—which is in the Upper Merion Township—to make the delivery. Police followed her car into a parking garage where they say she met two people and intended to hand over the 100 pounds of cannabis which she kept in three duffel bags. Messinese was arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver, criminal use of a communication facility, and use of/possession of drug paraphernalia.

Messinese’s arrest was covered by a number of news outlets mostly it would seem because of the sheer size of this attempted drug delivery, that it occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Messinese’s mugshot which shows the young white woman in a pink sweatshirt looking well, kind of badass giving the entire ordeal a sort of Spring Breakers-esque quality (The Outlaw Report will not share the mugshot because really, there is no newsworthiness reason for sharing mugshots).

Sourced from the Montgomery County District Attorney Facebook, media outlets quoted DA Kevin R. Steele claiming Messinese was taking advantage of the pandemic.

“This investigation determined that the defendant was going to use the COVID-19 emergency as an opportunity to traffic a large amount of marijuana, traveling several hours to King of Prussia to make the transaction,” Steele said. “Drug dealers and other criminals need to know that we have not stopped investigating and prosecuting crimes because of this pandemic. Do not traffic drugs of any kind in Montgomery County.”

Exactly what Steele meant by “us[ing] the COVID-19 emergency as an opportunity to traffic a large amount of marijuana,” is unclear. The description of Messinese’s also does not make any reference to whether or not the two people who she intended to deliver the cannabis to were also arrested. A request for additional information from the Upper Merion Township Police Department was requested but The Outlaw Report has not received a response back. 

What The Outlaw Report has learned about other illicit cannabis markets is that COVID-19 has disrupted and complicated them, making access to cannabis harder and creating worry about supply. In Pennsylvania, where Messinese was arrested, cannabis has not been legalized for recreational adult use though it does have a medicinal cannabis program. And there is no statewide decriminalization in Pennsylvania but there are 10 cities in Pennsylvania that have decriminalized possession of around or exactly one ounce. It is the sort of cannabis market that would be vulnerable to cannabis dealers operating in the illicit market, especially during a pandemic where access to cannabis would be limited and demand would increase. The Outlaw Report spoke to someone who use cannabis who lives an hour or so away from Philadelphia, who said that the illicit market in areas further away from Pennsylvania’s larger cities such as Philly is starting to dry up.

“No luck,” the person told The Outlaw Report. “Depleted supplies all around.”

The Outlaw Report reached out to Messinese who declined to comment though she did express frustration with how she has been covered in the press.

Facebook comments on the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Facebook page were largely in defense of Messinese and critical of making such a big deal out of a cannabis bust, regardless of its size.

“Weed?,” one commenter wrote. “That’s your big drug bust gtfo and do something for your community instead of robbing them maybe.”

“Why post this? Nobody cares about weed, just take the weed and let her go,” another commenter said. “Complete waste of time and manpower. Go after something more worthwhile.”

“She’s an essential worker ….we need more ppl like her!!! #stonernation,” someone else joked.

Photo of seized cannabis courtesy the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office

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