In the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 20, 2011, officers from eight police agencies carried through on warrants issued for four properties around the state. Judges in each jurisdiction signed affidavits for probable cause to search for drugs.
Members of the Blanco, Burnet, Travis and Harris County Sheriffs’ Offices, DPS-Narcotics, and Houston, Austin, and Marble Falls Police Departments coordinated efforts to conduct searches on the four properties–one in Blanco County, one in Travis County, and two in Harris County–after months of gathering evidence and planning. A fifth location near Killeen was also searched, but nothing was found, according to Tom Vinger, DPS Spokesperson.
Once officers entered the locations, marijuana, mushrooms, and unidentified pills were found and seized.
One of the properties targeted is located in the northern part of Blanco County, in the 1500 block of County Road 304, also known as Shovel Mountain Road.
Sharon Jones with DPS, and supervisor of the scene, said that information gathered over the course of the investigation led to the identification of the grow houses (buildings used to grow the marijuana) and, subsequently, the warrants issued for the search. She said that all of the departments involved did a good job of coordinating with one another so that the busts could be done simultaneously in order to avoid tip-offs.
The grow house located in Blanco County appeared to be a pre-fabricated building in which the suspects had a sophisticated growing system, according to officers on the scene.
Several sun lamps, estimated to cost around $600 each, were used, as well as a reflective material covering the walls. An irrigation system had also been installed. Approximately 125-150 plants were removed from the grow house.
The man suspected by officials of running the operation, Richard Stanley, 28, of Briar Cliff, reportedly leased all four locations. Officers said that, oftentimes, no one will live in the grow house, but someone will come to check on the plants frequently.
The plants recovered in Round Mountain averaged about two to three feet in height; marijuana is reportedly a fast growing plant, capable of reaching this height in only about six weeks.
Located about seven miles off of Hwy 281, there are few homes located on County Road 304, and those that are there are acres apart. The other three locations were in residential neighborhoods and were two story homes. One of the homes was the suspect’s residence.
Officers at the scene stated that the street value of each plant was estimated to be about $1,500; the total value of the seized plants in Blanco County is between $187,500 and $225,000.
The drugs that were found at the site will be taken to Austin DPS where they will be entered into evidence and used once the suspect has been arrested and brought to trial.
For now, officials will finish cataloging evidence and will then approach a judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the suspect.