Deputies looking for suspects involved in illegal marijuana grow - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Deputies looking for suspects involved in illegal marijuana grow in Benton City

Posted: Updated:

6-23-17 UPDATE:

BENTON CITY, WA - The Benton County Sheriff's Office found a large scale marijuana grow operation in Benton City on accident as they responded to a different call.

Today, reporter Rex Carlin saw firsthand just how much marijuana was found.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office went out on a call yesterday for an alleged assault in Benton City, and came back with $1.5 million worth of marijuana plants illegally being grown on the property.

Sheriff Jerry Hatcher told us there could be a wide ranging list of charges because on top of the original call for an assault and the 1,600 marijuana plants, Hatcher says the suspects got creative with how they would water all those plants.

"They tapped into the irrigation district with a two and a half inch water line," Sheriff Hatcher said. "And they did it prior to the meter, so basically they were taking water they weren't paying for and watering. That's a lot of water to water sixteen hundred crops."

Potential charges for that aspect of the investigation could include felony theft and malicious mischief, depending on if there is damage and how much water was taken.

Sheriff Hatcher says another tough part of the case has been simply figuring out who the suspects are, because the Sheriff's Office believes nobody was actually living on the Benton City property.

"We didn't have them in our system at all, and we go, 'are they even from this area?'" Sheriff Hatcher said. "Because originally we thought well obviously they're Benton City residents, they're living there. That does not seem to be the case, so we're working to identify exactly where they came from."

Sheriff Hatcher says the suspects are not in custody right now, and the Sheriff's Office is trying to sort out which charges need to go to which suspect...they're also looking into whether or not these suspects could be connected to any other grow operations in the area.

And as for the plants? Sheriff Hatcher says they'll be sent to Spokane to be destroyed.

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6-22-17 ORIGINAL STORY:

 BENTON CITY, WA - Right now, Benton County Sheriff's deputies are still looking for two people involved in an illegal marijuana growing operation. 

Reporter Jaclyn Selesky went to the neighborhood in Benton City today, and spoke to a woman who lives nearby.

A massive drug bust in what seems like a quiet neighborhood all happened in one house where Benton County Sheriff's Deputies seized more than 1,500 marijuana plants.

"You could see them with a shield, a SWAT shield," said a neighbor. "They all started walking towards the house."

That's the scene a neighbor, who wants to remain anonymous, woke up to Tuesday morning. It all started when deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call, but instead found $1.6 million worth of marijuana plants, part of two unlicensed grow operations.

"I had no idea," the neighbor admitted. "No clue. You never know what's happening right in your back yard, huh?"

Deputies say the two suspects also illegally tapped into an irrigation line to help the marijuana grow.

"Something like that it's a big eye-opener," the neighbor said. "Especially because we're starting a neighborhood watch just recently. We just had a meeting about it."

But this is one topic that wasn't on the agenda. The neighbor told us the house that sits right behind hers always looked a bit eerie, even abandoned.

"We just moved to Benton City, we love it here," the neighbor said. "We came from California and we absolutely love it. Our neighborhood is great. Everyone's really close here. We focus on our front yard, but not really our back."

Benton County deputies have identified the two suspects, but they're still trying to find them. Sheriff Jerry Hatcher says they are waiting to release the names until they know exactly who is being charged with what crime.

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