Early on the morning of July 4, Mineral County Deputy Adam Fortier received a report from a confidential source indicating the illegal growing of marijuana. Fortier confirmed some of the source’s allegations by driving by the residence at 3010 Towe Road and observing marijuana plants out in the open.
At this point Fortier started putting evidence together for the purpose of obtaining a search warrant and informed Sheriff Stewart Handte of the situation. A judge signed the warrant later in the afternoon. Handte said his department executed the warrant without help from outside law enforcement agencies.
Handte also thanked District Attorney Sean Rowe for coming in to the briefing on his day off.
“We put together a tactical operation plan and briefed before 6 p.m. Deputies Fortier and Hults were handling the information. We had a schematic of the house, and we knew what we were looking for,” Handte said.
The police arrived at the residence at about 6:25 p.m. Persons present at the residence included Kenneth Kirby, Leeanne Kirby and construction workers, which included a juvenile. Police took everyone into custody but eventually released the workers and the juvenile.
Because of the presence of marijuana plants and the juvenile, police included child endangerment with the other charges. Handte said that Kenneth Kirby possessed an expired marijuana card and 34 marijuana plants—22 plants over the limit even with a legitimate card.
Police also found something else: “We found two poppy plants, which are used for the production of heroin,” Handte said.
Steven McBride, the new undersheriff, also participated in the raid and found some marijuana allegedly packaged for sale. “They had some freezer bags with the dollar amount on the bag written with a sharpie. Some of them had $150 written on the bag,” McBride said.
Handte added that police found other marijuana placed in Ziploc bags inside the residence.
Police charged the Kirby’s with 5 felonies and 2 misdemeanors and set bail at $61,140 each. “People made comments, ‘They’re elderly, blah blah blah.’ I said, ‘Well, drug dealers or drug users don’t have a set age limit,” Handte said.
Handte said law enforcement is looking into seizing the property along with the vehicles. “We believe they’re cultivating and producing marijuana for sale purposes,” Handte added.
“If people involve themselves in drugs in this county, one of two things will happen: You can move and try to set up your enterprise in another county, or you can enjoy the accommodations of our jail,” Handte concluded.