One man was arrested after Washington County sheriff’s deputies, acting on tips about a stolen car, busted an indoor/outdoor marijuana-growing operation on Tenn. Highway 107 Saturday night.
Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said Roy D. Royal, 53, 1387 Tenn. Highway 107, Jonesborough, was charged with possession of stolen property, manufacturing schedule VI drugs, possession of schedule VI drugs for resale and maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used and sold.
Deputies went to Royal’s home because it was suspected a vehicle stolen out of Elizabethton was there. The vehicle was eventually found on Royal’s property but so were 75 marijuana plants growing at three spots around his house and two places inside the home, Graybeal said.
“One of the officers got a tip there might be some marijuana growing there,” Graybeal said Monday.
According to an affidavit of complaint against Royal, marijuana plants were found in an abandoned swimming pool, on the back porch and in an overgrown area of the yard. Inside Royal’s home deputies found marijuana growing in the basement and in an upstairs bedroom.
Graybeal said the indoor growing areas were basic but had grow lights, chemicals and timers.
The plants removed from Royal’s house were in various stages of maturity. Some plants were tiny but several were tall, including one that was at least six feet in length. In addition to the 75 plants found both inside and outside, sheriff’s investigators also found digital scales and about a quarter pound of processed marijuana. The stolen vehicle, which belonged to Elizabethton Auto Sales, was found in a wooded area behind Royal’s home.
The value of the marijuana would be about $75,000, Graybeal said.
Also found in Royal’s home was a large amount of ammunition for various firearms. Royal is a convicted felon and is prohibited from possessing guns and bullets. No guns were found in his home.
“He has a history,” Graybeal said. “We’re checking into criminal background right now, but I’ve known, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same gentleman, for a long time.”
Royal appeared in Sessions Court yesterday and was given a bond of $40,000. His next court appearance was scheduled for Monday.
Graybeal said investigators were continuing to follow up on leads in the case.
“I’m not sure yet where it will go,” he said. “But just like everything we do, we’ll follow up on it until we get to the end of the road and can’t go any farther.”
This is the second pot bust for the sheriff’s office in the past 2 1/2 weeks. On July 21 WCSO investigators found a large indoor hydroponic marijuana growing lab at 2419 Melborne Drive in Johnson City that utilized lighting, PVC piping, ventilation and electronics to produce three or four crops of marijuana every year worth about $142,000 each.
A man in connection with that bust has not been identified pending federal charges.
Graybeal said as the economy worsens more people will turn to growing their own marijuana or making their own methamphetamine or whatever they choose rather than buy it from a dealer, in effect becoming dealers themselves.
“So, you know, they’re growing more and I think that’s the reason we’re seeing more,” he said. “But one of the reasons we’re seeing more is because people are calling us and trusting us to follow up on the leads.
“It’s been here. We’re just getting more tips. And, you know, that’s due to the fact we are following up on the leads that citizens gives us. It takes a little while. Working drugs is not easy.”