Albany- Eleven people now stand accused of being involved in major marijuana growing operations. Five houses have been raided in Lee and Terrell Counties and since this all began June 29th and for weeks now, the rumors have been flying. On a daily basis we hear the names of all kinds of people in the community who are about to be arrested, Thursday law enforcement said most are rumors.
The FBI and DEA are working with local agencies to untwist what's become a tangled web of marijuana growing operations in Lee and Terrell Counties. With federal authorities involved, all eleven suspects could face harsh penalties if the suspects are indicted in federal court.
"We need to send a message to people that might think that they can supplement their income this way, that it has very, very dire consequences," said Ken Hodges, Dougherty County District Attorney.
In Dougherty County Jennifer Hanington is charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and in Terrell County faces conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Dean Slaymaker is charged in Terrell County with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Both are jailed in Dougherty County. Hanington is the daughter of Dougherty County Sheriff's Captain Tim Hanington. Hanington declined an on camera interview but said his first concern is his daughter and any political ambitions come second.
In Lee County, six people are charged in the multi-million dollar growing operation at two homes in the Hunter's Ridge and Southwood on the Kinchahfoonee subdivisions. And everybody's talking about a contractor, builder, lawyer, or doctor who'll be busted next.
"Literally there isn't a day that goes by that someone doesn't call and say hey I heard you put so and so in jail, no where did you hear that, well I heard it on the street. I don't know where on the street you heard it from but it's not a good source, you need to get your facts straight," said Col. Duane Sapp, Lee County.
The facts are that real estate agent Scott Renfro, insurance agent Ray Moody, Kimberly Etheridge and Frank Spring, Kasey Pearce, and Henry Rutledge are charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacturing marijuana, and trafficking in marijuana.
"Some of them have bonded out of course and at least three of them are still in jail," said Sapp.
Still jailed are Frank Spring, Kasey Pearce, and Henry Rutledge. Authorities continue to unravel their case, but are saying tight lipped about a possible thread that might connect the busts made in Terrell and Lee Counties.
Chuck Payne, Richard Rouse, and Weyman Harris are all charged with two growing operations in Sasser and Dawson. Rouse has made bond. Harris and Payne remain in the Terrell County Jail both charged with manufacturing marijuana.