Pot bust yields more than 600 plants

Authorities seize lights, generators and other growing equipment in mine

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Two men have been charged with growing and harvesting hundreds of marijuana plants in rural interior Alaska, according to state prosecutors.

John Tobe Larson, 49, and Brandon Phillips, 33, were charged Tuesday with felony drug misconduct.

They are accused of growing marijuana at the Eureka Gold Mine.

The Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement contacted the men Tuesday in Manley near Mile 139 Elliott Highway. Manley is about 90 miles west of Fairbanks.

Investigators seized 636 mature marijuana plants and 50 pounds of processed marijuana.

The total weight of the seized marijuana, if processed, was estimated at 200 pounds.

Investigators also seized lights, generators and other growing equipment.

They said Phillips is cooperating with investigators.

He told them that a friend introduced him to Larson, who hired him to harvest plants.

According to a criminal complaint, he was to receive $500 per day to harvest it.

The marijuana was to be put in duffel bags and flown out on Larson's Cessna 170B. The operation processed 10 pounds of marijuana per week and sold for $4,000 per pound, according to the complaint.

A calendar with details of how much marijuana was harvested each week was found at the scene.

At his arraignment Wednesday, Phillips said he had only been in Alaska a couple months.

"I just really want to go home," he said. "I don't know what else to do. I've cooperated with investigators."

Bail for both men was initially set at $2,500. A magistrate presiding at arraignment raised Phillips' bail to $7,500.

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