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Martinsburg man gets prison for manufacturing marijuana

August 06, 2008

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 37-year-old Martinsburg resident was sentenced by Chief Judge John Preston Bailey on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg to three years in federal prison.

James Hassel Van Metre, formerly of Shepherdstown, W.Va., was sentenced to 36 months in prison to be followed by three years supervised release, United States Attorney Sharon L. Potter said in a news release.

Van Metre entered a guilty plea Jan. 24 to one count of an indictment charging him with manufacturing 465 marijuana plants.

On Nov. 14, 2003, members of the Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched Van Metre's Shepherdstown residence.

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According to the news release, agents found a large indoor hydroponic marijuana growing operation in an undergrown facility at the residence.

The agents found 465 actively growing marijuana plants (street value of $800,000), along with 25.4 kilograms of processed marijuana and evidence of an additional 300 plants from an earlier "grow," according to the release.

The evidence indicated that in addition to growing marijuana, Van Metre from 2000 to 2003 was involved in importing approximately 1,137.93 kilograms of marijuana from Canada and Mexico, according to the release. The street value of Canadian marijuana alone was between 4.4 million and 7.6 million dollars, the release states.

Van Metre is free on bond and will self-report to a designated federal institution, the release states.

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