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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pot plants seized

MARTINSBURG -Police arrested two people Monday after 158 marijuana plants were found growing in a home near Martinsburg following an anonymous tip about the illegal growing operation.

Both 27-year-old Heather L. Johnson and 33-year-old Nathan W. Johnson, of Shepherdstown Road, were charged with manufacturing a controlled substance.

According to court records, Sgt. Dean Olack of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force received an anonymous tip last week about an alleged illegal marijuana growing operation. The tipster said Nathan and Heather Johnson were growing the marijuana in a spare bedroom of their home at 1337 Shepherdstown Road near Martinsburg. Police were told that the two had at least 30 plants growing in the house and also had lights, dirt and other items used to manufacture marijuana.

Based on the tip, Olack and Sgt. D.E. Boober conducted surveillance of the home in an attempt to substantiate the caller's claims. Olack also contacted Cpl. Brian Bean, who ran the defendants' names through the "Operation Green Thumb" system, records show.

The system indicated Nathan Johnson had made three purchases from a company called HydroFarm in Bristol, Pa.. which included purchases of radiant light sources, lenses and odor eliminators.

Based on that information, Olack obtained a search warrant for the home from Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra Miller.

The search warrant was executed Monday by the West Virginia State Police. When they entered the home, police smelled a strong odor of marijuana and noticed several fans in the living room area circulating the air to the rear door. In the spare bedroom, Olack located two large indoor tents. The tents were hooked up to electrical wires and duct work, and each contained marijuana plants, grow lights and an air circulation system.

The first tent contained 30 marijuana plants and the second contained 33. Police also seized 88 small marijuana plants from the master bedroom, as well as other plants found during the search of the home. In all, 158 marijuana plants and equipment used to grow them were seized.

Both Nathan and Heater Johnson were arrested and later arraigned. They were both released after posting $50,000 bail. If convicted they each face one to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.


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