Local News

Sampson County Deputies Bust Marijuana Lab

Posted August 22, 2007 1:05 a.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2007 9:45 a.m. EDT

— Deputies executing a search warrant discovered a clandestine marijuana laboratory and seized around $600,000 worth of plants and equipment at a Sampson County home.

The Sampson County Sheriff's Office received an anonymous tip in March, and a National Guard helicopter flying over the home spotted marijuana plants growing on the property, officials said.

The sheriff's Special Investigations Division executed a search warrant Monday at the home of George Claven Melton, Jr., 44, at 11005 Harrells Highway in Harrells.

Agents found one marijuana lab in a tractor-trailer behind the home and a second in one of Melton's bedrooms.

Officers also seized more than 160 marijuana plants that they said had a street value of $425,000. They also recovered equipment, weapons and growing supplies worth around $175,000.

Officers also made what they called a very unusual discovery – three frozen rattlesnakes in a deep freezer.

"It's obvious that we have turned up the heat on drug dealers in Sampson County. They are being forced to find creative ways to conceal their illicit activity," Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thorton said.

"As long as they continue to find ways to participate in illegal activity, we'll continue to find ways to bring them to justice," Thorton said.

Melton was charged with manufacturing marijuana and was being held in the Sampson County Detention Center under a $50,000 bond set by Magistrate Kevin Ellis.

"My officers ... have spent hundreds of man-hours conducting surveillance and performing follow-up investigative work to bring Mr. Melton to justice, and I'm proud of them," Thorton said.