The Washington County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday shut down an extensive indoor marijuana growing operation following a one-week investigation, seizing drugs worth an estimated $52,000, according to officials.
The Criminal Interdiction Unit received an anonymous tip regarding the operation. Upon making contact with Richard William Baldwin, 37, 381 Possum Hollow Road, No. 3, Gray, a search yielded 52 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, including 8.8 ounces of processed marijuana, as well as numerous items used to grow the drug.
Baldwin is charged with maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used, sold or manufactured; manufacture of marijuana; child abuse and neglect; possession of marijuana for resale; and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A second person, April Richardson, 28, also was in the home.
Baldwin and Richardson are being held in the Washington County Detention Center under a $22,000 bond. Both are scheduled to appear in Washington County Sessions Court today.
Sheriff’s deputies discovered that the couple’s infant child also was living in the residence, and the Department of Children’s Services responded for placement of the child pending conclusion of the investigation.
Sheriff Ed Graybeal said Baldwin, who originally is from California, had kept three or four addresses in the area and had moved from place to place during that time. Graybeal said the Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip via email.
“This guy knew what he was doing,” Graybeal said. “He has been cross-breeding different strains of marijuana that he may have been receiving from California through the mail. This will not fall into the federal category. The thing that’s important here is that what he was selling will no longer be hitting the streets. He had blended together different types and was taking the buds and placing them in labeled jars. If you touch it, it’s really sticky. You have to wash your hands if you handle it.”
Sgt. Sam Phillips said Wednesday that Baldwin had converted a large bedroom into two chambers and was using a special type of sheetrock to hold the moisture in the rooms.
“He offered no resistance when we knocked on the door,” Phillips said. “He would trim and keep the buds and get three cycles. He absolutely knew what he was doing when it came to growing marijuana, but not when it came to the law.”
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information on this or any other marijuana growing operation is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 788-1414.