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Stolen car report leads Louisiana deputies to huge drug crop

Illegal drug cultivation or manufacturing charges often include evidence of possession and drug-making ingredients, because charges may not be valid when one element is missing. A Louisiana defendant can be in possession of drugs with no intent to manufacture or distribute. Alternately, an individual may have equipment or products that might be used to grow or produce a drug with no intention of doing so.

Louisiana law enforcers recently found hundreds of marijuana plants growing in a wooded area near Tangipahoa. Sheriff's deputies said more than 300 plants, some exceeding seven feet in height, were discovered along with irrigation and plant drying equipment. Investigators stated there was some sort of nighttime security guard set up to protect the drug crop, estimated to be worth about $1 million, indicating the operation involved high-level distribution.

The story started with a stolen car report. A 25-year-old Hammond woman was accused of stealing a Nissan Altima and keeping a stash of illegal drugs in the car. Deputies located the alleged thief as she was driving the vehicle, accompanied by her 30-year-old brother, a 2-year-old child and a 49-year-old man. The toddler was the driver's child.

Crack cocaine was in the car. The older man apparently had a crack pipe and was charged with marijuana cultivation. A search of the home the driver shared with her brother, the child and a male roommate uncovered 15 pounds of processed cannabis. The adults were arrested and charged with marijuana cultivation and marijuana possession with intent to distribute.

The roommates apparently told investigators about the marijuana growing in the Tangipahoa Parish woods.

Drug offenses have serious consequences, like bankrupting fines and long prison terms. However, charges and penalties vary widely depending upon the substance involved, quantity and the defendant's alleged intentions. Drug possession for personal use is punished far less harshly than possession with the intent to cultivate, manufacture or distribute.

Source: The Advocate, "Authorities find 'cartel like' marijuana grow site in Tangipahoa Parish" Sep. 06, 2014

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