The Alabama Drug eradication unit and the Russell county drug unit seized 140 pound of marijuana from a Phenix city home Monday. Rickey Baker was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana and obstruction of justice for using a fake identification.
News Three's Naomi Keitt went to the home off of Minger Circle Friday and ran into Baker's cousin. She said Baker's arrest came as a surprise to her. She said the property belonged to her mother before she died and Baker was staying there on and off. She said she only knew of him growing tomatoes on the property but the Sheriff's department has a different story.
"Mr. Baker has a history of trafficking marijuana. He has been charged with trafficking marijuana in the past," said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.
The Alabama aviation unit flew over the Minger Circle property last Friday and spotted what they call "house dope:" a marijuana plant growing outside close to a home. They flew over the property again Monday and the drug eradication unit found baker there.
"When we pulled up in the driveway, we found him hiding in the bushes not 10 feet from the 1st plant that we initially saw," said Sergeant Mike Loyless. The drug eradication unit seized 282 marijuana plants from the Minger Circle location in Phenix City. Authorities estimate the total street value of the drugs to be $564,000.
When Baker was arrested he initially gave authorities a fake identification. He was charged with trafficking marijuana and obstruction of justice for using the fake id. Sheriff Taylor said he hopes Baker's arrest puts a dent in drug trafficking in the county.
"This is an extremely beneficial arrest as far as the marijuana goes. This is a lot of marijuana to take at one time," said Taylor. He says it is the largest plant eradication in recent Russell County history.
"We have found more plants total, but on one location and one property for one person, this is a very substantial amount of marijuana," said Taylor.
Sergeant Loyless said it only took deputies about 5 minutes to get to the Rome Monday which did not leave much time for Baker to destroy any evidence. He said they were staged very close to the property when the aviation unit confirmed the marijuana plant.
Sheriff Taylor said if convicted Baker could spend 10 years or more in prison.