Deputies bust large-scale marijuana grow

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Decatur County Sheriff’s Office arrested a local man on several drug-related charges after finding hundreds of marijuana plants growing on his property.

Late Friday afternoon, Sheriff’s Office investigators went to the home of 48-year-old Phillip Byrd at 175 Kemp Road, located off Georgia Highway 262 in southeastern Decatur County.

Sheriff’s deputies found Byrd in a field across the road from his residence, near one of several plots containing marijuana plants, Investigator Redell Walton said.

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Acting on a tip, deputies launched an investigation and conducted surveillance of Byrd’s activities.

In all, deputies uprooted more than 500 marijuana plants on Byrd’s property, along a deer trail through the woods and in multiple fields, Walton said. Some of the plants were concealed by vegetation and marijuana seeds lay scattered about.

After taking Byrd into custody, deputies obtained a search warrant for his residence. Inside, they found “a substantial amount” of marijuana, including plants and processed marijuana, and multiple firearms.

“We found a baking tin that was almost filled with marijuana,” Walton said. “We also found seeds and tools used in growing and processing the marijuana. In one room, we found about 50 seedlings that had started to germinate.”

Byrd is charged with manufacturing marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Because Byrd is a previously convicted felon, his firearms were seized and he was also charged with illegal possession of firearms by a convicted felon, Walton said.

Walton said a team of several investigators worked hard to discover the marijuana grows and remove the plants. That team included Walton, Chief Investigator Julian Crowder, Investigator Terry Phillips, Capt. Gale Bowyer and Investigator Brian Donalson.