Pot houses were like factories - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Pot houses were like factories

July 3, 2007

Lee County -- Investigators say the two houses in Hunter's Ridge and Southwood on the Kinchafhoonee subdivisions were marijuana factories.  Rooms were set up to start the sprigs, grow the plants, dry them, and cut them for sale. 

A rack full of clothes hangers, drying marijuana hangs inside the bedroom of one of two Lee County homes.  Marijuana residue litters the hallway and living room coffee table.  Each home is set up like an individual marijuana factory.

"The whole house is devoted to it, even the bathtub," said Lee County Sheriff's Col. Duane Sapp.

Each house had a room for sprigs, the cuttings from mature plants, basically to clone the plants and sustain the operation.  The plants were well cared for, given the best light, plant nutrients, and water to grow.  

"He's going to suspend the light so that he can get it as close to the plant as possible and then as they get bigger he's going to move the light up the plants will grow towards the light, naturally, because marijuana loves sunlight," said Col. Sapp. 

With foil on the walls to reflect the lights, windows were blacked out with bags.  If not, neighbors might have seen the thousand watt lights comparable to stadium lights that created a hefty utility bill. "Real high, some of the bills were over $600," said Sapp. 

Investigators won't tell us who paid those utility bills. The super grow environment included putting the plants on a platform to continuously pump water and fertilizer to them.  Fans also distribute CO2 to stimulate growth and production.

"Right there is the, he was actually out of CO2 at this house, but these hoses, these black hoses would go to the back of the fan and blow the CO2 over the plants because plants, they breathe in CO2," said Sapp.

They also found fertilizer grow formulas, bags ready for distribution with client names at the top, and a container of scraps, laced with pesticide to give it weight.  It could have been sold as trash weed and while it wouldn't have brought as high of a price, it's certainly more dangerous if smoked because of the pesticide. 

One of the homes also contained an air filter device to try to filter some of the smell so neighbors wouldn't become suspicious. 

The four who have been arrested are realtor Scott Renfroe, insurance agent Ray Moody, Frank Spring, and his companion Kimberly Etheridge.

And we need to correct something we reported yesterday. We were told by investigators that Frank Spring was an installer for ADT Security Systems; however, ADT says he does not nor has he ever worked for them.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has now been called in to help with the investigation into that huge marijuana growing operation in Lee County. The Sheriff says this is a far reaching drug ring and more arrests are likely.

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