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WestNET busts grow operation, jails three from Port Orchard

At least two dozen police officers from Kitsap County, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Bremerton and Thurston County, under the WestNET umbrella, busted what officials are calling a “marijuana grow operation” on Friday, Aug. 15.

According to Sgt. Randy Drake, who heads up WestNET, officers searched four houses between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and found approximately 400 marijuana plants.

Three citizens were arrested; Drake said the investigation is continuing.

Arrested on Aug. 15, and charged with leading organized crime, use of proceeds for profiteering, and violation of the Controlled Substance Act, were Mark C. Ferguson, 46, of Port Orchard, and Daniel B. Zimmerman, 47, also of Port Orchard.

Also arrested was Leah R. Zimmer-man, 37, Daniel Zimmerman’s wife. She was charged with one count of Violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

All three are out of the Kitsap County Jail on bail.

According to Sgt. Drake, no determination has been made yet on what charges will be filed in court, or whether Kitsap County or the U.S. Attorney General’s office will prosecute the case against Ferguson and the Zimmermans.

But Drake expressed no doubts about what he and his officers discovered.

“It’s certainly a drug-trafficking operation. The plants were found in four houses, in Belfair, Long Branch, Olalla and Port Orchard,” Drake said.

Drake said that Ferguson owns a local construction company and that Zimmerman was receiving disability for an injury and not working.

Drake said federal guidelines on marijuana grow operations vary by location.

“In Eastern Washington, the feds will take a 100-plant grow and prosecute,” Drake said. “But in Western Washington, they seldom prosecute anything less than 500 plants. Right now we’re not sure. I think it will be prosecuted locally, but they are felonies and they will be prosecuted.”

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