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W.Va. marijuana growing operation busted

May 18, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Police and undercover officers found an elaborate indoor marijuana-growing operation, 149 plants and four garbage bags full of dried marijuana in a basement of a house Wednesday.

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Jefferson County Sheriff William Senseney said the pot-growing operation was found about 2:30 p.m. in a house on Job Corps Road near the intersection with Flowing Springs Road, about three miles north of Charles Town.

There were 112 mature marijuana plants each about 5 feet high, Senseney said. The rest of the plants were young ones just being started, he said.

A "substantial quantity" of cured marijuana was found in four, 33-gallon garbage bags, said Senseney and Cpl. Samuel Harmon.

Indoor pot-growing operations generate considerable heat, and there was an exhaust fan system to remove heat from the basement, said Senseney. Timers operated grow lights and canisters to provide carbon dioxide to the plants, Senseney said.

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In such indoor operations, carbon dioxide is sometimes provided to help marijuana plants grow faster, Senseney said.

There were also watering and fertilizer systems for the plants, Senseney said.

"It is the most sophisticated growing system we have seen in Jefferson County," Senseney said.

Also seized from the house were two 12-gauge shotguns, Harmon said.

Three deputies and about three members of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force entered the home after obtaining a search warrant, Senseney said.

No arrests had been made. The person living in the house was not home at the time, Senseney said.

"We left him a note," said Senseney, explaining that a copy of the search warrant and a note to call the sheriff's department was left in the house.

Deputies could not place an exact value on the pot Thursday, although a mature marijuana plant can be worth up to $2,000, Senseney said.

Senseney declined to say how officers found the operation, but said they have been investigating it for about a week.

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