Local News

Marijuana, weapons seized in real estate agent's home

Posted January 9, 2010 10:39 a.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2010 6:29 p.m. EST

— A Fayetteville real estate agent maintained an "elaborate" marijuana growing operation in two homes, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said that James Jess Castillo, 41, of 3746 Clinton Road, did not surrender to authorities Friday evening as expected, but no charges had been filed against him as of Monday.

Castillo cultivated hundreds of marijuana plants in two homes at 3746 and 3758 Clinton Road, in the Vander community, Tanna said. He also had cultivating equipment in an RV on his property, and investigators believe he had begun planning to expand his operations, she said.

"It was a very sophisticated growing operation. It could have been a much bigger operation had we waited a few more months," she said.

Narcotic agents seized 27 weapons from Castillo's properties, including rifles, shotguns and handguns. Tanna said the street value of the drugs and firearms is estimated at $225,000.

The state Department of Revenue also seized items from Castillo's properties to satisfy a tax lien on the illegal drug business he is accused of running.

Cumberland County tax records show that Castillo didn't own either house.

Tanna said arrest warrants still haven't been completed in the case, and she declined to specify the charges Castillo might face.

"There had to be a lot of investigation due to the location of the guns. Were they registered? Who were they registered to?" she said.

Castillo worked as a real estate agent at Century 21 Weaver and Associates. The firm's general manager said Monday that Castillo no longer is an employee, and he declined further comment.

A woman who answered the door at Castillo's home and identified herself as his mother also declined to comment.