40 could face federal charges over indoor marijuana growing operation - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

40 could face federal charges over indoor marijuana growing operation

March 6, 2008

Lee County-  Federal Prosecutors say as many as 40 people could be indicted in a three county, three state indoor marijuana growing operation.

So far, five people have been indicted on federal charges for hindering the investigation of the multi-state operation and two are charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

Lee County Sheriff Harold Breeden says when his investigators busted three Lee County homes last June they never imagined the investigation would lead this far.

It started with 230 marijuana plants in two homes on Brightwater and Fowler Drive and the arrest of realtor Scott Renfroe, Ray Moody, Frank Spring, and his companion Kimberly Etheridge. Now there's word that there could be as many as 40 federal indictments in the case.

"Well probably be indicting probably 30 to 40 people on this," said Lee County Sheriff Harold Breeden.

Wednesday, Charlotte Spencer, Michael Suber's mother, pled not guilty to a federal obstruction charge that she warned her son federal agents were about to search is Panama City home. Lee County's Sheriff Harold Breeden was the last to think this operation would explode into 14 people facing state charges and now seven indicted on federal charges.

"It does shock me. You know, I didn't know it was going to be this big, turn out this big, but I'm glad it did," said Breeden.

Breeden says, a lot of the information that lead them to Terrell County, Panama City and Tallahassee, Florida and North Carolina came from the drug dealers themselves and the arrests wouldn't have been possible without some help.

"Without the DEA assisting us on this, we couldn't have done it because the DEA can go anywhere, where we can't you know and they've bee a big help to us," said Breeden.

Working with the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit, Terrell County Sheriff's Office, and the GBI a total of 21 arrests were made and there's more to come.

"It's still an ongoing investigation in that we are looking at some more at this time, even though the indictments are starting to come down we're still checking out a couple leads on it still," said Breeden.

Sheriff Breeden says they're also watching those who have already been charged and released on bond to make sure this growing operation doesn't try to grow again.

In the last 19 years Sheriff Harold Breeden says his investigators have broken up more than two-thousand drug operations.

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