Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 13, 2013

Police discover pot ‘grow house’

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Two Princeton city police officers who were serving an arrest warrant on Dec. 6, as part of a Mercer Coun-ty-wide drug round-up detected the “distinct odor” of marijuana coming from the residence where the suspect lived, according to Chief J.W. Howell of the Princeton Police Department.

Officers J.A. Angle and J.E. Carroll of the Princeton Police Department contacted the Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, Howell said. “The task force obtained a search warrant, and during the search of the residence, they discovered a large and elaborate grow house.”

All three bedrooms of the house had been modified for the sole purpose of growing marijuana, according to Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash. “All three bedrooms had been rewired with new construction to operate the equipment,” Ash said. “There were false windows in all of the bedrooms had been modified to look like they were closed, but there was ventilation around the windows in order to keep air flowing into the plants.”

Ash said that the internal ventilation in the house was equally elaborate. “All of the rooms were vented into the attic to conceal the smell of marijuana from the neighbors,” Ash said. “Most of the pot plants inside were waist-high.”

Howell said there were a total of 98 hydroponics marijuana plants in the grow house with an estimated street value of about $400,000. “The equipment was estimated at $50,000. The task force and the state police worked with us to dismantle all of the evidence in the house.”

Howell said that Shante M. McKinley, 28, of Princeton was arrested on a charge of cultivating marijuana. Ash added that more charges are possible. “The case is still under investigation,” he said.

“We didn’t know how long this grow house has been in operation,” Howell said. “The plants were in various stages of growth.”