Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies raided a Beaumont residence on Thursday, June 12, and made a shocking discovery. After days of watching the home, investigators say they knew they were walking into a drug den but were astounded by the scope of the operation.
According to a news release from JCSO, members of the Narcotics Task Force and patrol deputies executed a search warrant at 3930 Sunbury Drive in Beaumont. Deputy Rod Carroll said as they approached the residence, investigators detected the distinct smell of marijuana.
“You couldn’t smell it coming up the driveway like you can with a meth lab, but once you got up toward the front door, there was a really strong odor,” said Carroll.
Once inside, deputies observed several subjects and discovered a multitude of drugs, paraphernalia and a mushroom growing operation during the search of the home, according to JCSO. Investigators reportedly found seven pounds of hydroponic marijuana with an estimated street value of $35,000, 25 “Mollies” or “Ecstasy” pills, which contain MDMA (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine), with an estimated value of $500, a half-ounce of DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a psychedelic compound with an estimated value of $1500, hallucinogenic mushrooms, approximately 25 gallons of liquid containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the mind-altering ingredient found in cannabis, a small amount of edible candies containing Jello mix, THC oil, and molded to resemble Lego blocks and $10,203 in U.S. currency.
Deputies arrested 32-year-old Conrad Hammon of Beaumont for felony possession of marijuana. Hammon was being held at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility on a $10000 bond, and has since been released. In addition to the felony possession charges, Hammon faces other potential charges including possession of a controlled substance and intent to distribute.Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods and JCSO Narcotics Task Force Captain Troy Tucker both expressed surprise at the magnitude of the drug bust made in the small residential neighborhood.
“We executed the search warrant, and we really weren’t expecting all this,” Captain Tucker related.
“What you see right here in front of you is way more than personal use,” Sheriff Woods said indicating the two long tables covered with drugs.
“And this is just some of it,” Carroll chimed in agreement. “We didn’t bring it all in.”
Captain Tucker said the operator of the illegal enterprise was actually extracting THC from marijuana and using the oil, and potentially other drugs, to create candies that resembled Lego blocks, which he suspects could mean the dealers are honing in on area youth.
“This was a detailed operation,” Tucker explained. “You know, the THC oil, it appears they were extracting it from the marijuana and using it to lace a Jello. If you look here, this is more of a Jello replica of Lego blocks that just about every kid has or had. We’re in the initial stages of the investigation and we don’t know if this was just disguising the THC and that’s it, or if it was being used to target young adults or maybe children.”
Sheriff Woods echoed Tucker’s fear, saying, “We kind of suspect, from the stuff that was found, that some of the stuff being produced is targeted toward younger age drug users.”
Tucker said the task force has seen illegal confections recently but not in the shape of building blocks.
"We have seen other candies, but not the Lego blocks," said Tucker. "That’s new for me. I want to say probably a few months ago we had gummy rock-like candy that was in its package and they would get a needle and inject the narcotics into it and put it back in the bag."
The drug candy is not the only up and coming narcotic nuisance deputies are dealing with, Tucker said. Other new drugs are becoming problematic, and new twists on old drugs are also a problem.
"We have a drug called DMT that is new to this area," Tucker said, pointing out the task force has only been seeing the powerful hallucinogenic over the last year. "We are also seeing a surge in what they call Mollies, which is a pure form of Ecstasy, MDMA. Now, sometimes when we get to the lab, it’s not as pure as the true term of Mollies are meant to be, but they do contain MDMA."
Captain Tucker said deputies knew nothing about the operations at the residence until they received information from a concerned citizen the week prior to the raid.
"Now, the house, we don’t know who long it’s been in operation," Tucker related. "They were under our radar until just this past week. And going in, it was set up in the garage, in the bedrooms, multi refrigerators to grow mushrooms. The brown, tar-looking substance, that’s the THC that was extracted from the marijuana using what looked like a typical pump connected to a pressure cooker, and they had alcohol in there to break down the substance."
Five subjects were reportedly at the residence at the time of the raid. Hammon confessed, telling investigators the drugs were all his, but Tucker said he suspects he took the fall for all parties involved because they are relatives. He said the investigation is far from over and more arrests could follow. He also reports that the illegal substances collected at the residence are being taken to the Jefferson County Crime Lab for examination and determination of additional charges against the accused Hammon, who Tucker classified as a major player in the local drug trade.
"When you go into a house like this, you have drug notes, you have computers," said Tucker. "We have to go through all that and see if we can make a case on other people involved. We also want to find out who they’re selling to in an attempt to go speak with them and see if we can recover some of the drugs that were put on the street, and see if they will cooperate. During the course of an investigation, you may find out there’s another house that they owned, another person at the house that actually dealt with them that would shore up our case.
"(Hammon) is going to be charged right now, and we’re going to get this all to the lab and find out the quantity of the THC, and the Molly, the DMT and the Ecstasy, and then we’ll come up with the appropriate charge to add to it."
Tucker said he and the Task Force members along with JCSO are pleased to have assisted the community in ridding it of the criminal enterprise.
"Our commitment is to get this stuff off the streets," Tucker said. "The guys (task force), they did a great job this week, and this a product of their hard work."
Anyone who wishes to report a crime should contact their local law enforcement agency.