Over 350 pot plants seized

Thursday, November 3, 2005
Large marijuana growing operation found in Ridgley: The Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force discovered over 350 marijuana plants in a residence at Ridgley on Nov. 1. The trailer, which is rented by Thomas B. Golden, housed a hydroponic growing operation in two bedrooms, one bathroom and a large double-shelf cabinet. Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force officers estimated the operation's value at over $350,000. Pictured above, in one of the marijuana growing bedrooms, is Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff. Democrat Photo

The Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force found a large indoor hydroponic marijuana growing operation at a trailer in Ridgley on Nov. 1.

"From the outside it looks like a regular trailer," said Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff. "This operation is capable of producing several pounds of marijuana."

On Tuesday morning, the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force responded to the residence of Thomas B. Golden after an anonymous tip.

"He wasn't here when they arrived," said Epperly, "but the marijuana smell knocked them down at the door."

Golden was arrested and taken into custody when he returned to the trailer.

The Task Force officers secured a search warrant and entered the residence to find a marijuana growing operation with over 350 plants.

"This is only the second hydroponic growing operation in Barry County history," said Epperly. "The first one only had around nine plants."

Two bedrooms, one bathroom and a double-shelf cabinet were converted into hydroponic growing labs with rooter lamps and fans.

"This is very expensive equipment," said Epperly. "One of the growing bulbs costs around $120."

Many hydroponic chemicals, growing supplies and a substantial amount of processed marijuana were also found in the house.

"The hydroponic process probably provides faster growth," said Epperly. "They also don't have to mess with the dirt. It makes it easy to grow."

Golden moved to Missouri from Texas around six months ago.

"If we had not found it now, there is no telling how far he would have gone," said Epperly. "We're glad to get him off the streets."

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