Deputies tipped off to "pot bunker" -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Deputies tipped off to "pot bunker"

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An underground bunker that was being prepared as an indoor marijuana operation is busted by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Acting on a tip, the Lee County Tactical Narcotics Team surprised the homeowner Thursday night. During the raid, they found marijuana plants, a hydroponic growing system,and a sophisticated air filtration set up.

Investigators seized twelve marijuana plants and growing equipment from this somewhat secluded home on General Mudge Street Thursday night. Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals said it was important to bust the operation before it grew.

"One of the video camera that was found at the residence showed evidence that there was a large marijuana growing operation going on somewhere, but we, it's unknown where it's at because we can't pinpoint where it's at," said Rachals.

To neighbors Richard Blanchard's backyard seemed like any other, with a gazebo and a privacy fence, but behind the gazebo's bar, sheriff's pictures reveal a trap door that hid an underground bunker being prepped for an indoor marijuana growing operation.

"It had a vent, air circulation, dehumidifier, and everything else down there to keep the climate under control," said Rachals.

Right now investigators believe 39-year-old Richard Blanchard was acting alone and had only lived in the house a year. They say the backyard was set up with at least six cameras and Blanchard used a charcoal filter to keep neighbors from the smell.

"He was pretty careful about the things going on around him with the way he had the cameras set up," said Rachals.

Buds in jars were being prepared for replanting and some plants had been growing for five years. Sheriff's investigators this investigation isn't complete they found some other disturbing materials inside the home and their investigation continues.

Sheriff's investigators also seized several shotguns and pistols from the home along with a Hummer-3 with a Florida license plate and Ford F-150.

The GBI is helping with the investigation.