More marijuana growing operations found as weather gets warmer

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. - The Jackson County Sheriff's Office arrested two men in Bryant this week for allegedly growing almost 85 marijuana plants. 39-year-old Joshua Barton and 34-year-old Hershall Raines are both charged with trafficking, possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal possession of prescription drugs.

Authorities responded initially to a domestic dispute but noticed a strong smell coming from their backyard shed. Investigators say both Barton and Raines were inside of the shed when authorities discovered the grow operation and took the two into custody. Several firearms were discovered inside of the shed as well.

Although deputies say it appeared these plants were grown throughout the winter time, they add that it's not uncommon for them to see more plants growing outside once the weather starts warming up. This isn't the last marijuana grow operation they expect to find. "From spring to fall we find them just off and on," says Sheriff Chuck Phillips.

Although planting them indoors is a growing practice, authorities say they tend to find more outside when the weather starts warming up. "They'll start them out as seedlings at home sometimes and take them out in the woods and plant them."

Sheriff Chuck Phillips says growers usually prepare their sites in a wooded area before planting them. "People will call us or maybe give us a complaint or something about a four-wheeler going into the woods with a jug of water all the time, three or four times a week."

Cases like these can take a long time to catch. "Most of the time what we find in the wooded areas are seek and destroy missions. You may have to sit out there for several days until someone comes back," says Sheriff Phillips. He encourages residents to report any suspicious activity. "Some just general areas that we know we just about find it everywhere in those communities."

The sheriff's office says depending on the number of plants, growers can face felony charges.