The Richmond Register

November 17, 2012

Five indicted on pot growing, selling charges

By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer

RICHMOND — Five men were indicted this week for alleged involvement in a marijuana trafficking and cultivation ring that was discovered in July by Richmond police.

Seth Adkins, 19; Witmer Lopez, 21; William Upchurch, 23; Jacob Walters, 24; and Mikal Thackston, 18, were all indicted on several charges including: criminal conspiracy to traffic in marijuana, trafficking in marijuana, criminal conspiracy to cultivate marijuana less than five plants, cultivating marijuana less than five plants, first- and second-degree possession of a controlled substance, tampering with physical evidence, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, fourth-degree assault and theft by unlawful taking.

If convicted on all charges, the five could spend a maximum of 45 years in prison.

The growing/trafficking operation was unraveled after Richmond police responded to a home invasion report on Martin Drive.

Two residents in the 600 block of Martin Drive reported to police that two intruders had come into their house while they were asleep and stole $200 in cash. Two pairs of sunglasses also were taken from the residents’ vehicles, according to the report.

One resident woke during the home invasion and saw the two men sitting in his roommate’s vehicle.

“When he went to investigate, the two men attacked him causing minor injuries,” Brock said in the release.

The resident got away from the attackers, and the men drove off in the vehicle, the release stated.

The roommate who owned the vehicle, Witmer Lopez, was not home during the break-in, and when police searched his room they found 8 ounces of marijuana, plastic bags, digital scales and several empty pill bottles, according to the release.

Lopez returned to the home at 9:45 a.m. in his vehicle, and he was cited by officers for trafficking in marijuana (less than 8 oz.) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Later that day, RPD officers were called to an apartment in the 500 block of Hampton Way, Brock said.

“Officers arrived and found that Lopez had been followed by his two roommates to the apartment on Hampton Way where they observed the two males who had committed the earlier home invasion and theft,” Brock said.

The two roommates had confronted the men and recovered their stolen sunglasses and money from them, Brock said.

Officers observed marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the apartment, and after obtaining a search warrant, they found approximately 6 pounds of marijuana, $2,500 in cash, assorted bongs and marijuana pipes, assorted equipment for an indoor marijuana-growing operation and six small marijuana plants, Brock said.

Other indictments:

• Joseph A. Jackson, three counts of theft of identity and 23 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, both Class D felonies.

• Travis Edward Smith, first- and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, a Class C felony and Class A misdemeanor respectively, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.

• John W. Pence, first-degree possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony and failure to signal turn.

• Amanda R. Pence, first- and third-degree possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony and a Class A misdemeanor respectively.

• Abbygail Broughton, first-degree possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor.

An indictment is a formal statement of charges and does not imply guilt, only that a grand jury believes enough evidence exists for the state to prosecute.

Register News Writer Sarah Hogsed contributed to this story.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

NOTE: See additional indictments in the Sunday and Monday editions of the Richmond Register.