Washington County sheriff's deputies on Friday seized more than 250 marijuana plants, with a potential value of half a million dollars, from an isolated area in the western part of the county.
A few plants were initially discovered behind the trailer at 650 King Ave., Bartlett, where detectives were investigating a series of burglaries in the area, Sheriff Larry Mincks said.
"We started out with 30 plants, then 50, then 100," he said.
Arrested were Brandon E. O'Brien, 21, of 650 King Ave., along with Mason A. Nelson, 21, of 540 King Ave., and Robin G. Richards, 21, of State Route 550, Barlow.
Eventually, deputies took to the department's helicopter to continue the search, Mincks said. A total of 256 were discovered in the area, he said.
The plants appear to have been started inside, then transferred outdoors to various locations, including a bathtub outside the trailer, the sheriff said. The plants ranged in size from 17 inches to 4 feet tall, the release says.
"With the plentiful rain and sunshine we've been having... they've been doing very well," Mincks said.
The sheriff said the size of the seizure might not be big compared to some areas, but it was a significant amount for Washington County, where less than 50 plants were confiscated all year in 2008.
Had the plants all grown to maturity, they could have been sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000, Mincks said.
O'Brien was charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, according to the release. There has also been a holder placed on him by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority because he allegedly violated parole on a previous burglary conviction.
Nelson was charged with possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. Richards was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant charging him with failure to appear to pay fines.
Mincks said other charges could be forthcoming against all three men once the case is sent to a grand jury.
Earlier Friday, the sheriff's office announced a pair of unrelated drug arrests:
Walter R. Ayala, 21, of 1962 Princeton St., Parkersburg, was arrested on charges of trafficking in heroin and illegal possession of Percocet after he allegedly sold two doses of heroin to a confidential informant working with the Major Crimes Task Force, a release from the sheriff's office says. The transaction took place in the Go-Mart parking lot on Pike Street.
Ayala's bond was set at $5,000, and he remained in custody at the Washington County Jail Friday night.
On Friday, Justin A. Simpson, 20, of Canal Winchester, was arrested on drug charges in the county for the third time since March, a release from the sheriff's office says. The latest arrest followed controlled drug buys on Monday and Friday afternoon. During both of the transactions, the release says, Simpson sold a confidential informant two grams of crack cocaine for $200.
Simpson is in custody at the Washington County Jail, pending his initial court appearance at 1 p.m. Monday.