Rushville Republican

June 10, 2013

Huge “weed” operation busted

More than 300 marijuana plants seized in Carthage

Frank Denzler
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — An investigation into illegal marijuana cultivation led to the arrest of a Greenfield couple shortly after 9 p.m. Friday.

A two-week, multi-departmental effort by the RUFF Drug Task Force, with officers from the Rushville Police Department, Rush County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana State Police, culminated  with the arrest of Kenneth Paul Watkins, 50, and his 44-year-old wife, Teresa Lynn Watkins on multiple felony charges: dealing marijuana (class “D” felony), possession of marijuana (class “D” felony), maintaining a common nuisance (class “D” felony), possession of drug paraphernalia (class “A” misdemeanor) and cultivating marijuana.

Both Greenfield residents had $10,000 bonds set, and it was learned Monday that shortly after being booked in the Rush County Jail, both suspects posted bond and were released.

As a result of the investigation, officers obtained a warrant for a property known as the former Carthage Bowling alley, located at 10066 North Carthage Pike.

What officers discovered was a highly sophisticated marijuana growing operation with nearly 300 plants growing in what was described as a high-tech operation.

“All of the necessary tools and resources were present to plant, cultivate and process illegal drugs within the structure. Marijuana plants were found in each of these stages within the operation. There appeared to be no detail left unaccounted for,” RPD chief of police Craig Tucker said.

He continued by saying that the grow operation was as near a laboratory standard operation as possible.

“This was a complete joint effort that resulted in two arrest at the scene, with possible additional arrest in regards to the case. This was a chemical-based hydroponic grow operation that results in more potent THC levels than in normal growing operation,” RPD officer Doug Keith said.

The discovery is by and far the largest marijuana growing operation ever found in Rush County and, according to ISP personnel, it is the second largest hydroponic growing operation ever discovered and dismantled in the state.

Hydroponics is defined as a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water and without soil. Plants are grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, expanded clay pebbles or coconut husk. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir, but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth.

When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Hydroponics is the standard technique used in biology research.

“I am very proud of the efforts put forth by all the officers involved in this case and very happy we were able to prevent this marijuana from reaching our streets,” Tucker said.

Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness pointed out that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106