Local News

Rattlesnakes, Coffin Seized in Pot Bust

Posted August 23, 2007

— A marijuana bust on Monday ranks among the most unusual arrests in Sampson County history, authorities said.

In addition to seizing more than 160 marijuana plants worth an estimated $425,000 and extensive growing equipment, investigators found three large rattlesnakes on ice in a freezer, an inactive hand grenade and a metal coffin, Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said.

George Claven Melton Jr., 44, of 11005 Harrells Highway, is charged with manufacturing marijuana and three counts of possession of an endangered species.

"His method of operation is totally different than what we've been accustomed to seeing," Thornton said. "He had probably 100-plus magazines that would show you how to grow marijuana in different forms and fashions."

Most of the plants were found inside an abandoned tractor-trailer next to Melton's residence. Another growing operation was in a bedroom, authorities said.

"It wouldn't have been easily known or even thought of as being a clandestine marijuana-growing unit," Thornton said.

An airborne marijuana-eradication effort by Sampson County deputies and the North Carolina National Guard located the operation, authorities said.

Thornton said the operation probably generated about $4,000 a week.

It's unclear how Melton obtained the rattlesnakes, which were sealed in plastic bags. But Thornton said the snakes and the coffin likely were used to scare off intruders.

"Our thinking is he had those there as maybe warding off us as law enforcement or other drug dealers," the sheriff said.


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  • ncyankee Aug 25, 2007

    It was so nice of everyone to forget that we citizens of Sampson County pay taxes just like the next person. We also elect our Sheriff and so forth like the rest of the counties that make up NC. To you who live in places that are acustom to rape, murder and robbery, we apologize for this "trivial", but illegal drug bust that took up so much of your "news cast". I will say that as a business owner and resident of Sampson County, I'm glad to have our police and sheriff's department available to respond so quickly when we call. These people are just as professional as any you may have in your communities and neighborhoods. Furthermore, what most of you may not be aware of is the proximity of several school's in the area where this bust took place, grades K-12. Guess that doesn't make any difference either, since it's just "weed".

  • Supie Aug 24, 2007

    anyone remember that kid in Virginia back in the 60s or 70s who got 24 years for one mj seed? And he served every day of that sentence. I often think of him with profound sadness and prayers for his happiness now that he is out of prison.

  • HangOn Aug 24, 2007

    C'mon, free Johnny Fever! He didn't hurt anyone. Rattlesnake is actually tasty. Do you freeze your meat or leave it in a bag on the porch?

  • 2 Aug 24, 2007

    this is the first time I think I have seen ALL wral posters in agreement... perhaps it will be legalized one day when the gov realizes how much money they COULD make.

  • O-Get-A-Grip Aug 24, 2007

    He still broke the law no matter what is was he was doing. The Law enforecement was doing what they were supposed to do. As for weed in general, how many people you know smkoe weed and go home and beat their spouse and kids? NONE!!!! How many fights occur within the "puff-puff-give" circle....NONE!! Perhaps weed is a gateway drug....to peaceful people!

  • joey2 Aug 24, 2007


  • joey2 Aug 24, 2007


  • Deep thoughts Aug 24, 2007

    Annual Causes of Death in the United States:

    Tobacco 435,000
    Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,000
    Alcohol 85,000
    Microbial Agents 75,000
    Toxic Agents 55,000
    Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,347
    Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,000 Suicide 30,622 Incidents Involving Firearms 29,000 Homicide 20,308 Sexual Behaviors 20,000 All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect 17,000 Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin 7,600 Marijuana 0

    The US Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)

  • Adelinthe Aug 24, 2007

    "I'm so tired of the gov't wasting resources on chasing down marijuana. It's so pathetic. Weed is no worse for you than cig's."

    Actually cigarettes have been proven to cause fatal illnesses; mj hasn't been proven to harm anyone with anything (other than giving you the munchies to snacks that might clog the arteries) ;o)

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • doorman888 Aug 24, 2007

    "He had probably 100-plus magazines that would show you how to grow marijuana in different forms and fashions."

    At least he was well read. can't say that about the arresting officers.