126 marijuana plants found in man’s garden

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Brookhaven man was arrested on felony charges Monday afterpolice officers found approximately 126 marijuana plants growing inhis back yard, said Police Chief Pap Henderson.

Melvin G. Watkins, of 324 South Washington St., was charged withmanufacture of a controlled substance Monday morning after policediscovered the plants growing in his garden with other gardenvegetables.

Henderson said officers were doing a routine check on a homenext door, as its owner was out of town, and they went to the backyard to check on a utility structure in the back.

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When Watkins saw the officers in the yard next door, he gatheredup a large bundle of plants and began running, authorities said.When officers told him to stop, he stuffed the plants in a largegarbage can.

“That gave us probable cause to search,” said Henderson.”Between the garbage cans and the other plants, there wereapproximately 126 plants on the premises.”

John Douglas, commander of the Southwest Mississippi NarcoticsTask Force, said that even one plant would have been a felonycharge.

“But this was an extremely large amount,” he said.

Douglas said the Drug Enforcement Agency has a formula thatfigures each outside plant to be capable of producing one pound ofproduct.

“And marijuana goes for roughly $1,000 a pound on the street,”he said.

Henderson said police decline to speculate on whether Watkinshad any intent to sell the product.

“We have no indication he’s a drug dealer,” he said. “But it’sillegal to manufacture narcotics, and he got caught.”

Watkins will make his first appearance before BrookhavenMunicipal Court on Tuesday.