Authorities uncovered an indoor growing operation that included two sites in Sullivan County and two sites in Johnson City, with a total of 144 marijuana plants and nearly $40,000 seized.
Two men — David Alles, 53, and Steven Wilkey, 21, both of 711 Rolling Hills Drive, Apt. A, Johnson City — were arrested on drug charges.
In Sullivan County, both men face two counts of manufacturing marijuana and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. Alles also has two counts of maintaining a dwelling where drugs are manufactured.
In Washington County, only Alles is charged. He faces two counts of manufacturing and selling marijuana, two counts of maintaining a dwelling where drugs are manufactured or sold and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
The investigation began Saturday after the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office received information about the operation on Old Mountain View Road and Jarrell Drive, both in Bluff City.
After serving search warrants at both locations, authorities discovered dozens of marijuana plants growing.
Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson said one location had 42 plants and the other had 37 plants growing.
Evidence at the Sullivan County locations led officers to Johnson City.
With help from the Johnson City Police Department, officers served search warrants at 711 Rolling Hills Drive, Apt. A, and at 3121 W. Walnut St., No. 38.
Johnson City police described the find as “seven marijuana growing operations,” at the two locations, according to a news release.
Officers seized 65 plants, 10 pounds of processed marijuana and $15,000 cash from the locations. JCPD Lt. Steve Sherfey said investigators also seized an additional $24,000 in a bank account.
Anderson and Johnson City Police Chief John Lowry said the grow sites were complex and sophisticated.
It’s apparently a growing trend in the marijuana business. Washington County sheriff’s investigators have found six indoor marijuana growing operations. In July, the largest of those was in a house on Melbourne Drive in Johnson City and involved a hydroponic system that could produce $500,000 worth of marijuana per year.
One common factor in most marijuana growing investigations is that authorities receive information from the public.
It’s a key to making arrests, Anderson said.
“The public is a really big help to us. We can’t do this by ourselves,” he said.
Alles and Wilkey have each posted a $50,000 bond in Sullivan County and Alles also has a $41,000 bond in Washington County. They have court dates in both counties later this month.