OBSERVER Staff Report
PORTLAND - A sophisticated marijuana growing operation was shut down in the town of Portland on Wednesday morning.
At 7:15 a.m., members of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office SWAT team and the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at 7145 Plank Road, Portland. County Court Judge Steven Cass had issued a search warrant.
Officers seized 256 marijuana plants, a quantity of processed marijuana, a quantity of controlled substances, three long guns and a large quantity of cash.
According to a Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force news release, the system used to grow the marijuana was set up with timers for the light and watering system as well as a pulley system to allow the lights to move over the plants to better replicate outdoor growing conditions, which forces plant growth.
The value of the growing operation is estimated at $250,000, the release stated.
Jerry J. Erhard, 44, and Jenell L. Long, 37, both of the Plank Road residence, will be charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, unlawfully growing marijuana, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia and unlawfully dealing with a child.
Both subjects were released, pending the processing of all evidence. According to the release, additional charges are forthcoming.
Authorities encourage anyone who observes narcotics-related activity in their community to call the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force at 1-800-344-8702 or their local police agency.
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