Tangipahoa deputies seized roughly $1 million in illegal drugs from a “cartel-like” marijuana-growing site during an early morning raid deep in the woods near the village of Tangipahoa in one of the biggest raids that Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards can remember.
The growing site was a “very sophisticated operation” with irrigation, packaging equipment and evidence that lookouts would spend nights at the location keeping watch over the crop, Edwards said Friday.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was called in to help with the investigation. In a wooded area, investigators discovered 318 “massive” marijuana plants, an irrigation system, drying station and about 250 pounds of processing marijuana, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Some of the plants were 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began Sept. 2 when a caller accused 25-year-old Megan Crain, of Hammond, of stealing his 2012 Nissan Altima. The caller said Crain had illegal drugs in a garbage bag in the back seat of the car.
When deputies caught up with the Altima near La. 1050 and James Road, Crain was behind the wheel, the Sheriff’s Office reported. Dagoberto Rodriguez, 49, and Brent Crain, 30, as well as an unnamed juvenile, were riding inside.
Upon search, authorities found four rocks of crack cocaine in the car and a crack pipe in Rodriguez’ pocket, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
The sheriff said the juvenile who was taken into protective services was the 2-year-old child of Megan Crain. She and Brent Crain are siblings.
The parish narcotic’s unit went to the Crains’ home on Jenkins Road in Hammond, where they found around 15 pounds of processed marijuana, the Sheriff’s Office reported. During interviews with the subjects, authorities learned of a growing site on Guy Road in Tangipahoa.
“That would be a lot of marijuana to stay in Tangipahoa Parish,” Edwards said.
Rodriguez has been charged in federal court with cultivation of marijuana. The DEA transported him to the St. Tammany Parish Jail, where he was being held Monday.
Megan Crain, Brent Crain and their roommate Donald Chaisson, 31, face charges in the 21st Judicial District Court of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and cultivation of marijuana. Megan Crain was released on her own recognizance Sept. 2, according to jail records. Brent Crain is being held in the Tangipahoa Parish Jail on $100,000 bond. Chaisson was released on $100,000 bond Sept. 3.