Indoor Marijuana Grow Leads to 35 Year Prison Sentence
JAN 26 -- (LaPorte, IN)— A LaPorte couple has been sentenced to federal prison for growing marijuana inside their home. Ronald Barker and Christine Barker are also facing the forfeiture of their residence and five acres of land. The sentencing and forfeitures stem from a federal search warrant that was served at their residence located at 7277 N. 200 E, LaPorte, Indiana, in June of 2006. During the course of that search, members of the LaPorte County Drug Task Force and federal agents seized approximately 348 marijuana plants, 37 firearms, a 2004 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1998 Harley Davidson Trike and other vehicles. The elaborate marijuana grow operation was found in the basement of their residence which had been divided into six rooms. Each room had plants in different stages of development and all rooms were equipped with grow lights, ventilation and temperature control.
“This was a very sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation,” stated Gary G. Olenkiewicz, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Field Division, which covers the state of Indiana. “Some of the plants were over six feet tall. The successful prosecution and convictions in this investigation are due to the cooperative efforts of the DEA, the LaPorte County Drug Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the US Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Indiana.”
The federal indictment charged the Barkers with manufacturing with intent to possess marijuana in the amount of 100 plants or more, possession of a controlled substance affecting interstate and foreign commerce, knowingly and intentionally maintaining and using their residence for the purpose of manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana), and possession of firearms in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
Christine Barker pled guilty and was sentenced December 12, 2006 to 72 months imprisonment and two years of supervised release. Ronald Barker was convicted by a jury and sentenced on December 21, 2006 to 35 years imprisonment and four years of supervised release. The Barkers admitted to growing marijuana at their residence for over 19 years and charged customers $3,200.00 per pound.