WITTER SPRINGS – LAKE COUNTY The Lake County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force served a search warrant last Sunday morning, November 10, at 7:15 am, at a home on Witter Springs Road, and found a barn turned into a major marijuana growing and processing factory.
According to a press release, detectives first entered the home and detained the residents, 51-year-old Wayne Edward Driskell and 42-year-old Joan Marie Villines. They began a search of the property, including the barn, finding six people busy at work there.
The two-floor barn had a large marijuana processing operation set up. The upstairs room had drying lines, circular multi-level drying trays, and shelves with a number of one-pound bags of processed pot, ready for sale. They also located elsewhere on the property 27 remaining marijuana plants, and clear evidence of many more that had already been harvested.
Detectives spoke with the crew of six, who were listed as 35-year-old Joseph Edward Menan of Lakeport, 35-year-old Phillip Adam Petty of Kelseyville, 38-year-old Jeremy Michael Dowdy of Lakeport, 32-year-old Thaddeus James Gunther of Upper Lake, and out of state visitors 24-year-old Katherine Ava Morrow of Philadelphia and 32-year-old Brian Edward Hall of Madison Virginia. They all told detectives that they had been brought on to help with the processing of marijuana. (It is not clear if they were to be paid in cash or surplus product.)
Turning their attention to the home, and found in Driskell’s bedroom a hidden compartment with stacks of $50 bills, totaling $10,000.
Interviewing Driskell, detectives heard a tale of him leasing his property and barn to a guy for ten grand at the start of the growing season. He said none of the marijuana on the property or in the barn was his, and he didn’t know who all those people in the barn were. Ms. Villines said she didn’t know the people either, and had no knowledge of the leasing agreement with the mysterious tenant Driskell had referred to. What she did have, however, was several children living at the home. It is not clear if the children were her kids, hers and Drikell’s or if any belonged to the crew from the barn. But when it came time to arrest the suspects, Joan Villines was left behind to care for them.
Detectives, not buying Driskell’s claims of ignorance, at least for now, arrested him under charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and conspiracy. Jeremy Dowdy, of the barn crew, was arrested for both possession and cultivation, and the other five were charged with cultivation.
Sheriff’s detectives also rounded up a total of 253.5 pounds of processed marijuana, 27 mature plants from the orchard, and another 13 from behind the house. They also seized the $10,000 cash, which will be held pending asset forfeiture proceedings as suspected profits from drug trafficking.
Lake County News: Detectives arrest seven, seize large amounts of cash and marijuana