July 25, 2006
Another huge drug bust in the area as authorities find 4,400 marijuana plants growing in southern Albemarle County.
Investigators with the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement task force said they haven't seen anything like this in their careers. Thousands of marijuana plants valued on the streets at almost $5 million were found in the backyard of a home on Blenheim Road in Scottsville yesterday.
“It's the largest bust I’m aware of in Albemarle County. It’s really huge,” said Sgt. John Baber of the Jade Task Force.
So huge in fact this bust was about 20 times the size of their largest eradication.
“It was a just a big patch of plants, that's really the only way to describe it. They were tall. They range from one foot to nine feet in height and there were a lot of them,” said Baber.
Police arrested the home owner where the plants were found. Fifty-one year-old Gary Peck is being held without bond at the Albemarle-Charlottesville regional jail. He has been charged with manufacturing marijuana with the intent to distribute and with the possession of four firearms.
And Peck didn't live in a remote area. He was allegedly growing the plants in open view about 50 yards from his back door. And this is something investigators say Peck has been doing for a long time.
“According to our investigation for several years at least,” said Baber.
Investigators won't say what led them to peck but they believe he was planning on selling the drugs that have an estimated street value of about $1,100 per plant.
But even with such big take down police said they hardly made a dent in the local marijuana trade.
“There's plenty more around in all of the surrounding jurisdictions and in Albemarle County as well there's plenty of it around that we don't find,” said Baber.
Police say this is an ongoing investigation and there may be other people involved. They add that additional charges are pending.
This was a joint investigation between Virginia State police and the Jade task force.