Suwannee Democrat

January 4, 2013

Sophisticated marijuana grow house discovered in Hamilton County-homeowner arrested

Joyce Marie Taylor
Suwannee Democrat

Jasper — A Jasper man was arrested after a major drug investigation that yielded 179 mature marijuana plants inside his residence, according to Sheriff Harrell Reid of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

Reports state that on Thursday, Jan. 3, Juan Jose Reyes Castellanos, 48, Jasper, was arrested for producing and trafficking in marijuana after an indoor marijuana growing operation was discovered at his residence.

Sheriff Reid stated that on Wednesday, Jan. 2, HCSO was tipped off by Suwannee Valley Electric Co-op (SVEC) that power was possibly being diverted/stolen from a residence at 4377 West State Road 6 in Jasper belonging to Castellanos. 

SVEC, Reid said, advised they were going to the residence the next morning to check it out. Upon arrival at the residence the next day, an SVEC employee noticed an unusually large air conditioning unit for such a small trailer, Reid continued, and after checking the power going through the meter at the pole, the SVEC employee confirmed the suspicion that electricity was being diverted.

Reid said the SVEC employee stated that when Castellanos spotted him on the pole he ran out of the back of the residence. The SVEC employee immediately alerted the sheriff’s office.

“Castellanos was captured just a short time later,” said Reid.

Reports show that when drug task force deputies arrived at the residence they noticed a distinct odor of marijuana emanating from the house from about 30 feet away. They secured the residence and made certain no one else was in the home. Once inside during a protective sweep of the residence, deputies discovered a sophisticated indoor growing operation. Reid said they immediately contacted the State Attorney’s Office to obtain a search warrant, which was then conducted on Thursday, Jan. 3.

“Basically, there were two rooms in the house and these rooms were filled with these buckets of plants,” said Reid.

Reid said there was also another room full of clipped plants that were going to be used for seedlings.

“There was another whole crop ready to put in these buckets to start again,” said Reid.

Reid explained that in these growing operations the leaves are clipped from the buds and each plant yields about one pound of buds.

“If you clipped all the buds off and dried it you’d have one pound of high quality marijuana,” said Reid. “They harvest these things every three months, so that’s four pounds per plant, per year. A pound of this kind of stuff would bring roughly $5,000 per pound.”

Along with the 179 pot plants deputies also seized potting soil, fertilizer, thermostats, power converters, timers, and reflective material and light bulbs that were used to produce artificial light, as well as other items.

Castellanos was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on charges of producing and trafficking in marijuana in excess of 25 pounds or more.