Near record pot bust - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Near record pot bust

Posted June 07, 2005

Cairo- Authorities are celebrating one of the biggest pot busts in Grady County in years. In a joint operation, they arrested two men late this afternoon for growing fields of the illicit weed.

     Like highly skilled trackers, authorities in Grady County braved the woods to hunt their prey this afternoon. "Marijuana," says an undercover agent. They found dozens of plants. Southwest Georgia Drug Task Force commander Joey Autrey says it was a joint operation with Thomas County agents. "They contacted us, and before daylight this morning their agency and our agency got out in the woods," he says/

     That's where agents set up surveillance, enduring the heat until the two men they were watching for came to tend their crop. "The individuals are Ken Gilliard, who lived in the residence [on the property] and Fred Rackley who is originally from Ochlocknee. They're both being charged with manufacturing marijuana and charged with possession of marijuana with intent. We also found about a gallon bag half full of marijuana that was already drying," says Autrey.

     The suspects planted the marijuana in a network of mazes. Drug agents say they don't want to plant them in rows to avoid detection by air. "Both of these individuals have been involved with marijuana for quite some time. This is not our first contact with either one of them," says Autrey.

     The Grady County Sheriff's Office was also involved in the bust. "It's one of the biggest ones we've had in a long while," says Sheriff Harry Young. He expects even more plants to be found. "We're suspecting there might be as many as a thousand or more back in the woods," says Young. "We have made a difference today. This is quite a bit of marijuana that will never reach the streets," says Autrey.

     If convicted, Rackley and Gilliard could spend more than seven years in prison. Gilliard is actually out of jail pending the appeal of a case the task force made against him about two years ago for the same offense. He and Rackley won't have a bond hearing until they have been interrogated and formally charged.

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