Police arrest suspect with 69 pot plants

WestNet officers raided a Long Lake residence on Tuesday and seized 69 mature marijuana plants with a combined street value of nearly $70,000.

WestNET spokesman Randy Drake said officers opted not to aggressively raid the house because of the suspect’s age. Ken Anderson, who was arrested on the charge of growing marijuana, is 62 years old.

“The individual was super-cooperative,” Drake said. “He led us right to the plants.”

The plants were being grown in an adjacent barn, which had been outfitted with high-intensity lamps, reflective shields and other equipment needed to maintain the tropical environment in which marijuana plants thrive. Police also found several thousand dollars in cash hidden in the house’s freezer and several hunting rifles.

Drake said many of the rifles were stored by the windows of the home, indicating that they may have been intended as a means of defending the crop. He added that keeping firearms for security while growing marijuana can add several years to an otherwise short sentence.

Unless a suspect is charged with selling marijuana, the penalty for growing as a first-time offense is only a few months in jail, Drake said. Anderson has been charged with manufacturing an illicit substance (marijuana). Drake said, at this time, there are no plans to charge him with selling the crop.

“He was clearly selling marijuana and even admitted to that,” Drake said. “But, we don’t have any proof he was dealing. In this state, it isn’t enough to admit to it. The state law right now is real soft on marijuana for some reason.”

Drake pointed out the penalty for manufacturing drugs such as methamphetamine is much higher — up to several years in prison.

Anderson was released shortly after his arrest, Drake said. The purpose behind the bust was to seize the eqiupment and plants, giving the officers a means of building a case against Anderson.

“The whole intent was to get him fingerprinted and released,” Drake said.

The officers were tipped off by a concerned citizen. Drake said this is often how officers are led to marijuana growers.

“There’s a real distinct odor associated with burning marijuana and fresh marijuana,” he said. “That’s how we know a lot of times — we drive by and smell it.”

The plants are being stored in WestNET’s property room until the case has been tried. They will then be transported to a remote site and burned. Until then, Drake said, the officers will just have to get used to working with the constant smell of marijuana hanging about the building.

“It’s pretty smelly back there,” he said.

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