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Marijuana Arrests Continue

Herb Fellow

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LEESBURG - Two people accused of operating a marijuana growing operation are en route to South Georgia after an ongoing Lee County drug operation expanded into North Carolina, officials said.

Brian Thomas Klein, 31, and Rachel Charlene Matre, 35, are the latest players
in a sweeping drug investigation that now involves grow houses in three Southeastern states that investigators say were funneling millions of dollars
worth of marijuana into the area.

According to investigators, Klein and Matre, who are both Georgia residents from the Albany area, were operating a grow operation out of a rental house in a mountainous area near Franklin, N.C.

On Jan. 10, federal and state investigators raided the home, dismantled the operation and arrested Klein and Matre, who are expected to be extradited to the Terrell County Jail in Dawson, where they will await their first appearances in front of a federal judge in Albany.

Lee County Sheriff Harold Breeden said Friday that he was pleasantly surprised that the drug operation started by his deputies in June 2007 had blossomed into a mechanism for the destruction of dope houses throughout Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.

"I didn't think it would grow like this, but my goodness, it's spread like wildfire" Breeden said.

Frank Spring, Kimberly Etheridge, Scott Renfroe and Ray Moody were the first arrested in June 2007 after deputies discovered grow operations at three Lee County homes.

Those houses led investigators to homes near Dawson and Sasser that they believed were operated by Michael Suber, Weyman Harris and Dean Slaymaker.

Jennifer Hannington and Henry Pouliot were also linked to grow operations, while Suber was connected to an operation in Panama City, Fla., investigators said.

On Tuesday, Harris and Pouliot were indicted in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. More federal indictments are expected, authorities said.

"It's not over yet," Breeden said. "This thing is still ongoing."

Source: The Albany Herald
Copyright: 2007, The Albany Herald
Contact: J.D. SUMNER j.d.sumner@.at.albanyherald.com
Website: Albany Herald 20080119n3.htm
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