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Man pleads in pot case

April 19, 2002

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A former Hedgesville, W.Va., man implicated two years ago in an elaborate marijuana-growing operation in Jefferson County pleaded guilty Wednesday to manufacturing 149 of the illegal plants.

Jason Barrett Drake, 39, now of Pottstown, Pa., could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, said U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Johnston, who said Drake will remain in custody pending sentencing.

When police raided the house on Job Corps Road on May 17, 2000, they found a large amount of cured pot in four 33-gallon garbage bags in addition to the growing plants.

There was an exhaust system in the house to vent heat from the growing operation, along with "grow lights" and carbon dioxide canisters on timers, police said.

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The carbon dioxide was being provided to the plants to help them grow faster, police said.

The case was investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force and West Virginia State Police.

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