SEABROOK — Federal authorities are now involved in the search for an alleged Seabrook drug dealer whose alleged marijuana growing operation, drugs and weapons cache were discovered last month due to a fire at his home.
Seabrook police prosecutor Scott Mendes said the U.S. Marshals Service is searching for Jonah Couturier, 37, of 256C Lafayette Road, who faces nine felonies related to his alleged marijuana operation. He said Couturier’s charges have been filed in the National Crime Information Center, a database that allows federal, state and local agencies across the country access to information on his allegations.
Couturier was arrested by New Hampshire State Police May 22 for marijuana possession after he called 911 to report his home catching fire. State police took him into custody in East Kingston after Seabrook police put out a be-on-the-lookout call for his arrest. He posted $500 personal recognizance bail and was released.
A search warrant turned up drugs inside his home totaling more than $250,000 in street value, including more than $160,000 in marijuana, LSD, butane honey oil, fentanyl, and psilocybin mushrooms. Seabrook police called the discovery the biggest drug bust in the town’s history. Numerous loaded handguns, shotguns, rifles, assault rifles and a sub-machine gun were also found near the windows and doors of his apartment, according to police.
Jeffrey White, supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal, said the marshals became involved in the investigation the week of the arrest when his department was contacted by Seabrook police about three days after complaints were filed against Couturier. He said Couturier’s location is unknown, but it is possible he left the state.
If Couturier is arrested in another state, White said, he would be a fugitive from justice upon arrest, most likely without bail. He said authorities in New Hampshire would have a time period of about two weeks to retrieve him from that state. That time also allows suspects arrested as fugitives to prove they are not the person facing the allegations.
Couturier faces six drug possession charges, one of marijuana possession with intent to distribute and two counts of reckless conduct. Police said the reckless conduct charges were for leaving guns out during a fire and abandoning the scene, creating a dangerous situation for the firefighters responding to his 911 call reporting the blaze.
Mendes said the investigation is ongoing and he could not comment on details of Couturier’s operation or how he fit into the area’s network of illicit drug distribution. He said he spoke with Couturier’s attorney, but he declined to talk about the nature of that conversation. “At this point, there’s such an investigation ongoing that we’re going to keep a lot of things close to us for now,” he said.
Police were assisted in the investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office. The search seized 50 mature marijuana plants, 51 seedling plants, at least 60 pounds of processed marijuana, 90 grams of white powder believed to be fentanyl, 262 grams of psilocybin psychedelic mushrooms and $80,000 in marijuana extract. Police did not specify the quantity of the LSD found. A rolling tool chest full of ammunition was also seized.