ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – A five month investigation into an outdoor growing operation leads to the seizure of hundreds of marijuana plants and the arrest of an Allen County man.
The investigation, which included the Indiana State Police, Allen County Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration, began in April after the Allen County Drug Task Force received a tip about the operation. The raid, conducted Saturday, September 8 by Allen County SWAT in the 13200 block of Lake Everett Drive, concluded with the arrest of Jason Bridges, 32, of Fort Wayne.
Bridges was arrested on felony marijuana possession and dealing charges and could face federal charges, according to Steve Ribolla with the DEA.
“We are currently evaluating the case right now for federal prosecution. Because of the size of the marijuana grow and multiple defendants, it is possible that we would charge them federally with drug trafficking crimes,” says Ribolla.
He says grows involving 100 or more plants often warrant federal prosecution.
“Any marijuana case could be prosecuted federally, but generally, we normally start with grows of around 100 and anything larger than that certainly can be prosecuted federally.”
According to Ribolla, Bridges was arrested with a pistol and an assault rifle. He says that while the operation might not have implications for reducing drug trade on a multi-state level, it does present a significant blow to trade on the local level.
“This would be more of local impact type of case. I don’t think this case would necessarily involve multi-state distribution or anything like that. However, in that community, it’s a pretty big deal. I mean that was a large marijuana grow. It was all around the lake. There’s kids running around the lake over there. One of the individuals arrested had firearms including an assault rifle, so it’s still an important thing for us to do to eradicate and charge people with marijuana.”
Sgt. Ron Galaviz with the Indiana State Police says law enforcement will conduct more investigations in the area because of the possibility of other growing operations.
“There were other outdoor growing operations in and around the vicinity that were found. So again, it behooves law enforcement to follow up on those, see what inner-workings between this and those exist, if any, and then take the appropriate actions accordingly.”
Both Ribolla and Galaviz say more arrests are possible in the coming days.
Street value estimates of Saturday's bust currently exceed $100,000.
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