A Pike County law enforcement office demonstrates how high some of the marijuana plants have grown.
More than 200 marijuana plants were found on the property.
Evidence taken from inside the residence (Source: Pike County Sheriff's Dept.)
Luther Green (Source: Pike County Sheriff's Dept.)
Ramona Vester (Source: Pike County Sheriff's Dept.)
PIKE CO., AL (WSFA) -
A Pike County couple is facing charges after investigators say they found more than 200 marijuana plants growing in and around their home.
Information about a possible grow operation in the eastern part of the county led officers to a home just outside of the town of Banks on County Road 6642. When they pulled up to the house, they didn't have to search long for evidence.
"The plants were all just out in the backyard in plain view. If you had gone to visit them, there they would have been. They weren't hidden from anybody if you drove to their house. Now they did live quite a ways off from a public road," said Lt. Bob Williamson with the Pike County Sheriff's Department.
The sighting led investigators to get a search warrant for the house and premises.
"We searched the residence where we found marijuana drying, scales and 13 firearms. In a pantry area, we found a small indoor grow where they were cloning plants which is where they clip limbs off bigger plants and putting them in a rooting solution and cloning them and moving them outside and then outside there were more plants to a total of 213 plants," Lt. Williamson said.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety's Aviation Unit helped uncover the big marijuana patch. One of their pilots was on his way to Dale County this week to help search for a rape suspect when he spotted the plants from the sky in his chopper. He called in the coordinates to law enforcement and the raid happened Tuesday afternoon at 4 PM.
The plants ranged in size from four inches to more than seven feet tall. Some of them were in black pots but most were in a metal watering trough, according to officers.
The couple who lives at the home- 48-year-old Luther Green and his girlfriend, 47-year-old Ramona Vester- were arrested for trafficking marijuana.
"They said they were growing plants for their own personal use but this was more than a personal use grow with this many plants, with the cloning and all," Williamson said.
The discovery left neighbors stunned. Frankie Gay says she's known Ramona Vester for more than 20 years.
"She's not the kind of person that would get involved with stuff like that. Her fiance, he's a local farmer," she said. "I'm very shocked, really because this is a quiet road, quiet neighborhood. Nobody bothers anybody. I didn't even know anybody around here did stuff like that."
Neighbors said the couple have been meeting visitors at a gate at the top of their driveway instead of letting them come down the long drive on their property to the house.
Agents from the Alabama ABC Board were also involved in the bust.
Pike County investigators estimate the operation's value to be close to $430,000 dollars.
"The DEA and the state value plants of any size, if they're alive, at 2000 a piece because of the potential of what they could grow into," Lt. Williamson said.
He believes Green and Vester had been growing the plants since early spring. The plants were seized and will be destroyed.
The chief pilot for the Alabama Department of Public Safety's Aviation Unit says they have 14 aircrafts and three bases across the state and the crews randomly target certain counties at different times of the year for marijuana eradications. The unit's other missions include search and rescues, fugitive manhunts and searches for missing people. They also sponsor Project Lifesaver, searching for wandering or lost individuals with Alzheimer's, autism, Down Syndrome, dementia and other cognitive conditions.
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