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Lt. Debra Young of the Crawford County Sherrif’s Department spreads out 124 marijuana plants confiscated Thursday at an indoor growing operation near Riddle. Photo by Lee Cable

Police seize 124 indoor marijuana plants

Juvenile welfare check leads to bust

January 18, 2012
The Crawford County Sheriff's Department uncovered an indoor marijuana growing operation last week after a Leavenworth man was taken into custody on possession of marijuana charges.

The bust occurred after Chief Deputy Shawn Scott and Department of Child Services officials conducted a welfare check on a juvenile at a house along Mansfield Road near Riddle. Upon arrival at the residence, Scott and DCS officials talked to the owner, William Smallwood, and was allowed to check the living conditions at the home. Once inside, Scott said he observed a small amount of marijuana in plain sight. Smallwood was placed under arrest for possession. Scott then summoned Lt. Debra Young, who secured the scene while Smallwood was taken to the Crawford County Jail and a search warrant was issued for the property.

With the search warrant in hand, Scott called Indiana State Police Trooper Ryan Conrad and an ISP undercover marijuana eradication detective to assist. When the officers arrived, a search was made of the home and outbuildings. The backyard of the property included large pens that contained 15 American pit bulls. Another pit bull and a smaller dog were inside the home.

At first, the officers came up empty when they searched the area, but, upon closer examination, they discovered light coming from beneath a door of a small add-on structure at the rear of an outbuilding. When they entered the building, officers said they discovered 124 marijuana plants growing under lights. The plants weren't quite ready to be harvested, they said, but were nearing maturity. The plants were removed and hauled to the garage at the Crawford County Sheriff's Department to be photographed as evidence and destroyed.

Smallwood, who was already in jail on the possession charge, received an additional charge of marijuana cultivation.

"Plants like these usually yield about 1/2 pound of marijuana per plant," the undercover detective said. "The same plants grown outdoors would probably yield about one pound, but the quality of this pot is high. I've seen it go for as much as $3,000 to $4,000 a pound on the street, so there's a lot of money here."

"Smallwood said he first got pit bulls for protection," Sheriff Tim Wilkerson, who assisted in the investigation, said, "but later he began to breed them to sell. The dogs were well cared for, and arrangements have been made to assure the dogs will be cared for in Mr. Smallwood's absence."

The undercover detective said that a record amount of marijuana had been eradicated in Indiana in 2011.

"We destroyed about 80,000 plants last year," he said. "Kentucky, which is considered a top growing state, only eradicated about 87,000 plants, so Indiana is in the top 10 to 12 pot-growing states now. And a lot of growers have switched to indoor growing operations, so we are now focused on those operations, as well."

"What we have here today has a street value of probably about $100,000," Wilkerson said, pointing at the pile of plants, "but it's never going to be on the streets now."

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    January 19, 2012 | 11:30 AM

    they are american bulldogs, not pit bulls

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