Huntingtonman faces drug charge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ROME TOWNSHIP— Gardening is a common pastime, but one man’s horticultural pursuits have landed him in hot water with the law.

John McHaffie II, 50, of Huntington, W.Va., was arrested late last week on the illegal manufacture or cultivation of drugs after authorities found approximately 680 marijuana plants growing on property he occupied.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton said his deputies, members of the Lawrence County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force, troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and members of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification were conducting a drug eradication effort in the eastern part of the county when a helicopter crew spotted the pot plant growing in a wooded area near Mott’s Ridge in Rome Township. Then officers on the ground found McHaffie and his erstwhile accommodations.

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“When officers entered the area they found a makeshift campsite, a bed, a generator and the use of camouflage material,” Sexton said.

Sexton said McHaffie was carrying an assault rifle at the time he was located and had to be ordered to put it down. A second firearm was also confiscated.

Some of the plants were said to be 10-11 feet tall and collectively weighed 160 pounds. Marijuana has a street value of between $800 and $1,200 when processed.

McHaffie was taken to the Lawrence County Jail. He was arraigned Friday in Lawrence County Municipal Court in Chesapeake. Judge Donald Capper set a $30,000 cash or surety bond

and ordered McHaffie to return to court Friday for a preliminary hearing.