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Tip prompts $52k marijuana growing lab bust

Published On: May 01 2013 11:23:34 AM CDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 09:12:24 PM CDT

Thousands of dollars worth of marijuana is swept off the streets of Washington County, Tennessee.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. -

Thousands of dollars worth of marijuana is swept off the streets of Washington County, Tennessee.

Sheriff's officials told us an online tip led them to a sophisticated indoor grow lab.

A highly potent loot of pot now sits in the hands of investigators and out of reach to the underground drug market. Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff Ed Graybeal said 52 marijuana plants were found inside a homemade growing lab at a home on Possum Hollow Road in Gray. "We got an email on our hotline, so the guys started working on it. Yesterday it came all together for us," said Sheriff Graybeal.

Richard William Baldwin, 37, and April Richardson, 28, were arrested. They now face various drug charges. "He [Baldwin] had taken sheetrock and built a room inside of another room," explained the sheriff.

Officials said the lab was a complete and sophisticated operation to grow marijuana year-round. "[They] had it all vented. There he had the heat, the lights, the water, the whole nine yards," Sheriff Graybeal said. 

We’re told the total value of these plants is over $52,000. "That's growing some big marijuana to get that many bugs on a little bitty plant. So he knew what he was doing," said Sheriff Graybeal.

Half a pound of the pot was found ready to sell at a value of around $1,600.

Nearby neighbor Amy Scism said this drug discovery isn't a surprise; it's just unsettling. "Truthfully, I'm glad that it was found, and that it's gone now. I have three children. I don't want them around that at all," Scism told News 5.

We learned more facts on this case: Sheriff Graybeal told us Baldwin and Richardson's three-month-old child was in the home at the time, and the Department of Children's Services was called to place the child elsewhere until the investigation is complete.

Both suspects also face charges of child abuse and neglect.

As for what's left for the plants, we're told some of the marijuana will be submitted as evidence to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The rest will be burned.

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