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BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS

Correspondent

GILMER–Authorities arrested a 34-year-old Longview man in an Aug. 8 drug raid in rural Upshur County, two days after sheriff’s deputies confiscated 30 marijuana plants which had been found growing just off a right-of-way on a rural road, sheriff’s Chief Deputy David Hazel announced last week.

Kenny Okeith Harris was arrested on drug and theft charges when multiple agencies executed a search warrant in the 600 block of Bluebird Road in the Gilmer area, Hazel said in an Aug. 14 news release.

Harris was released from county jail Aug. 9 on bonds totaling $22,000, said the sheriff’s office.

The bonds, set by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rhonda Welch, included $10,000 each on two felony charges: possession of a controlled substance (which was not named), and theft of property over $2,500 but under $30,000. She also set $2,000 bond on a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge, authorities said.

Hazel wrote that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Longview Police Department SWAT team, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency, and the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit conducted the raid.

They seized Xanax, methamphetamine, marijuana and recovered a stolen motorcycle, the chief deputy said.

In another case, deputies confiscated the marijuana plants Aug. 6 after a right-of-way maintenance crew notified them that afternoon that it had found the plants growing just off a right-of-way, just off Saunders Road in the southwestern part of the county, Hazel said in another news release Aug. 14.

Officers took the plants, which averaged two to three feet in height and were “in plain view just a few feet off the right-of-way,” to the sheriff’s offfice’s property room, he said.

Investigators followed up with the owner of the large tract of land, but “there is no evidence” that person was “aware of the plants,” which were in a place “readily accessible through the right-of-way by vehicle,” the chief deputy added. “The owner has been fully cooperative and charges are not anticipated in this case.”

Hazel also warned that rural landowners, especially absentee ones, “are susceptible to having their land used for clandestine purposes.” He urged they “have their land checked routinely and contact the sheriff’s office (903-843-2541) if suspicious circumstances are discovered.”