Sheriff’s office busts marijuana operation

Staff Report

August 29, 2013

ARARAT — An Ararat couple are in jail after investigators broke up what Sheriff Graham Atkinson said is “one of the most elaborate indoor marijuana grow operations ever seized in Surry County.”

According to the sheriff, investigators with his department executed a search warrant at 261 Key Road Tuesday, the residence of George Matthew Keen, 31, and Meigan Llewelyn Keen, 25.

“The search was the result of an investigation that was initiated after the Surry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division received information that the Keens were growing marijuana inside a barn-type structure located on their property,” he said.

Officers followed up on the information, and their investigation uncovered enough evidence for them to receive a search warrant for the outbuilding and residence on the property.

“Once inside the outbuilding, officers found one of the most elaborate indoor marijuana grow operations ever seized in Surry County,” he said.

Atkinson said the front area of the outbuilding was disguised to look like a typical shop-type work area, with the alleged growing operation concealed.

“Behind a door was a hallway which led to four individual rooms on each side, and one in the rear at the end of the hall,” he said. “Five of the rooms were outfitted with grow lights, air conditioning, automatic timers and thermostats and were designed to create a continuous perfect climate in which to produce marijuana.”

The sheriff said one of the rooms was dedicated to drying and processing the plants after they reached maturity. A second room was designed as a “starter room,” where new plants were cloned from mature plants.

“The remaining rooms were used for storage and clean-up,” he said. “The entire structure was outfitted with a complex ventilation system.”

Officers located a total of 444 marijuana plants at various stages of development, from seedlings to mature plants.

They also seized several pounds of processed marijuana.

“Inside the house, officers located several ounces of marijuana inside a mason jar, and a smaller amount which appeared to be for personal use,” Atkinson said.

Investigators also seized a 30.06 rifle, three .22 caliber rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun, a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and two .25 caliber pistols.

“Both of the suspects have been charged with with two counts of trafficking marijuana, maintaining a drug dwelling and possession of drug paraphernalia,” he said, noting that additional charges are pending.

George Keen has been booked into the Surry County Jail under a $100,000 secured bond, while Meigan Keen has been jailed under a $25,000 secured bond.