The police arrested James Norred and his wife Jane. Both were charged with cultivating marijuana, possession of controlled dangerous substance, possession of controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a fire arm and juvenile.
James Norred faces an extra charge of resisting an officer tacked on the other three charges.
The two were arrested Sunday morning and by Sunday afternoon, had bonded out. Their bonds were each set at $30,000.
Early Sunday morning, the Erath police discovered one of the largest marijuana farms ever found in the town of Erath, according to Erath Police Chief Gerald Hebert.
The street value of the marijuana plants located is just more than $10,000.
The Norreds, allegedly, were growing marijuana in a shed behind their house. The police walked into the shed and discovered a green house-type set-up. The plants were growing in plastic boxes with water and lighting constantly on the plant. Chemicals used to feed the plants were also located.
The police seized 20 plants, seeds, $793 in cash, and the equipment used to grow the plants.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Erath Police Chief Gerald Hebert when he walked into the shed. “I was blown away...amazed.”
The chief said he figured the operation had been going on for six months, based on the mail the police seized in his house.
Officers seized pamphlets and books showing the way to grow marijuana using hydroponics. Everything was ordered on the Internet.
They also seized a small plastic bag of marijuana that James Norred processed and was allegedly ready to sell.
The Erath police discovered the Norreds’ sophisticated operation with a combination of luck and good police work.
Weeks earlier the Erath police received a phone call from state office, child protection, to investigate burn marks found on a 22-month old baby. While investigating, Erath police officer Ryan Pommier walked into the house and smelled marijuana.
Officer Pommier informed the chief what he smelled and Chief Hebert let the office of child protection also know what his officer smelt. The next day, the state went to the Norred home to check on the baby, only to be turned away by James Norred. Chief Hebert said James Norred told the state workers they would need a court order to enter into his house. They eventually produced one.
In the meantime, a red flag went up, said Chief Hebert because of how defensive James Norred became when the child protection official wanted to enter his house. Chief Hebert said he felt James Norred was hiding something.
The Erath police began keeping an eye on the house, believing buying and selling was taking place. The officers, however, witnessed no traffic.
Patrolman Pommier was able to smell marijuana when he drove by the house, which again alerted the police.
Then the officers got the break they were looking for late Saturday night.
The Youngsville police called the Erath police and told them Jane Norred was stranded in Youngsville and needed a ride back to Erath. Normally, Hebert said, the Erath police do not make it a habit to go pick someone up out of town and bring them back to Erath, But because Jane Norred was a suspect the police had been watching, this would be the perfect opportunity to bring her to her home and possibly find out where the marijuana smell is coming from.
Patrolman Mitch Pommier met the Youngsville police halfway and then brought her back home. When he arrived to the Norred home, James Norred refused to let the officer in to check on the 22-month old baby. He told the officer a search warrant was needed. Patrolman Mitch Pommier called Chief Hebert, who then began the process of obtaining a search warrant.
While officers waited for a warrant, James Norred took off running out of the house, but did not get too far and was arrested. In the meantime, the Erath police did not enter the house until a warrant was signed by a judge.
The officers walked inside the house and found a few plants, money and paraphernalia. They noticed marijuana leaves floating in the toilet, like he had tried to flush some plants down the toilet. It was not until they went into the shed is where they discovered the operation.
“I have been in law enforcement for years ad I have never seen this kind of operation before,” the chief added. “This is why you become a police officer. My officers deserve all of the credit. They did a great job.”