|Updated: Helicopter fly-overs yield pot plants|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:42|
The sheriff’s department arrested two suspected marijuana growers and charged a third after aerial searches last week led investigators to 264 plants and other evidence at three locations in Margaretta, Sanderson and Glen St. Mary.
The largest and most sophisticated pot producing location, said Chuck Brannan, BCSO’s chief investigator, was at the property owned by Nathan Eubanks Perret, 57, at 11736 Folsom Rd.
Following a routine helicopter search for marijuana on August 11, police confiscated 189 plants between 1- and 5-feet tall, about six pounds of the drug already processed, a dozen firearms, a tractor and an off-road vehicle from Mr. Perret’s 34-acre tract, which includes a home, pond and barn.
Inv. Brannan spotted pot plants surrounding the residence from the air about 1:00 pm and alerted Investigator Steve Harvey and patrol units on the ground to the residence. When approached by the officers, Mr. Perret reportedly put his hands on his head and said, “You got me. I knew when I seen the helicopter I was caught,” states Inv. Harvey’s report.
The suspect consented to a search of the property, which was purchased in a pair of transactions in 2003 and 2004.
According to police, Mr. Perret helped deputies find the guns, marijuana packed in gallon bags within a larger bag in a garage freezer, and a partially-filled gallon bag of the drug on a kitchen counter.The firearms included three shotguns, four rifles and five handguns including a .40-caliber Glock. A search of the surrounding woods uncovered 189 plants of various sizes, the report notes.
Also located on the fenced-off property were an irrigation system watering most of the seized plants and a wooden shed with a hidden door in the rear, behind which police found a growing room still under construction, according to Inv. Harvey’s account. Inside were lights and other items, “needed for an indoor hydroponic grow operation.”
Mr. Perret was arrested on charges of marijuana possession with intent to sell or manufacture, and producing marijuana, both third degree felonies.
• Earlier that morning, while searching over the Margaretta area, Inv. Brannan said a black male was seen darting from a residence at 10641 Ruise Ln. to a shed about 9:00 am. During a second pass of the property, the investigator said the man, later identified as Cornelius Ruise Jr., 43, of Glen St. Mary, harvested several marijuana plants as they watched from the air and fled while simultaneously trying to tear the plants apart.
“He looked like a chicken running around with his head cut off,” said Inv. Brannan.
The suspect soon reached the road with the pot plants and began walking north while still attempting to shred the evidence as the helicopter hovered overhead.
Inv. Brannan said the suspect did not look up and appeared to be ignoring the helicopter’s presence. He was met by officers in the yard of the residence, where he eventually returned.
Seventeen more marijuana plants were found at the shed, according to the investigator’s report. Mr. Ruise was booked at county jail on charges of producing marijuana and destroying evidence, both third degree felonies.
Searching later that afternoon in the same area of the county, investigators identified three locations being used to cultivate marijuana, though ownership of the plants could not be determined.
Twenty-two plants were seized from the woods about a half-mile west of Cow Pen Road and north of US 90. Ten plants were found behind a junk yard at 10302 Gredford Williams Rd. and nine more about 6-feet tall were uncovered in heavy brush on the property line adjacent to 10168 Ora Ruise Rd.
• Yet another group of marijuana plants were located just north of the Glen St. Mary town limits during a helicopter sweep the morning of August 8.
Investigators were directed to an enclosed pen at the rear of a shed at 11109 Bradley Trail, the address of David Henry Bradley’s 1-acre homesteaded property. There they found 11 pot plants growing in 5-gallon buckets.
Six more plants being dried were recovered from the shed.
Mr. Bradley met with investigators at the sheriff’s office the following day and admitted he grew marijuana for his personal use, but not to sell, states Inv. Harvey’s report. Mr. Bradley was charged with producing marijuana.
• The fly-overs last week followed a similar operation last month in the area of CR 127 and CR 122 in Taylor, where police found 65 plants at the residence of Thomas (Tommy) Fish, 52.
Maj. Brannan spotted a single plant growing in a garden at 21421 CR 127 and later several more plants among tomato bushes, as well as a white male on the porch.
The officer landed in the helicopter, approached the residence and found Mr. Fish, who stated the pot plants belonged to his recently deceased son, Brandon Fish.
The son was shot and killed June 18.
Mr. Fish directed the deputies to 65 marijuana plants and several seedling plants in trays under a large oak tree in the front yard.
Three days later, the suspect called the sheriff’s department to notify it that he found more small plants and destroyed them.
Mr. Fish is charged with a single count of producing marijuana.
The sheriff’s office received assistance from the DEA and Florida Department of Agriculture law enforcement during the investigation. The helicopters were piloted by the Florida National Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, or FWC.
|Last Updated on Friday, 19 August 2011 07:55|