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County's first pot bust big one for Task Force

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By Stephen Thomas

LEBANON JUNCTION - Working on a tip from an anonymous phone call, the Bullitt County Drug Task Force and Sheriffs Department made the county's first marijuana bust of 2009.

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Investigators visited the address on Beech Grove Road after receiving a call Tuesday about a possible indoor marijuana facility.

"The odor was emanating so strongly that we had no doubt the phone call was legitimate," said Drug Task Force director Kenny Hardin.

According to Hardin, a two-story metal building located behind a trailer was where Richard P. Clayton, Jr., 50, was living and growing plants. Hardin said Clayton cooperated with investigators.

Police confiscated 97 different plants growing at various stages, many at full maturity or in the "harvesting stage," according to Hardin.

Some of the plants, labeled as Sesamia, could be harvested at $300 per ounce, Hardin said.

Many of the plants were "being cloned" by Clayton, according to Hardin. He said plants were grown in various pots and cups to keep track of better plants.  He added that Clayton's plants were "growing in good shape."

Also discovered at the scene were three pounds of processed marijuana and $1,500 cash. Police also found six rifles, including SKS semi-automatics, three handguns and a shotgun.

Hardin said Clayton told investigators he needed more income to supplement his disability to work. He told investigators he never sold anything to minors.

Clayton does not have a previous criminal record, Hardin said. He was charged with cultivating marijuana, a first-degree offense if more than five plants, and trafficking more than eight ounces of marijuana.

Due to Clayton's poor health, Hardin said he was not arrested. He received a court date of Oct. 5 and was advised to contact an attorney.

"He is of no danger to the public," Hardin added.

The Drug Task Force has made about 40 meth busts in 2009 in comparison to one marijuana bust. Hardin believed the amount confiscated "will dent marijuana operations in Bullitt County."