SYLVANIA - Two hidden rooms, 40 marijuana plants, and 10 different varieties were discovered on Halcyondale Road in what Screven County Sheriff's investigators are calling "one of the most sophisticated indoor marijuana grows seized in the last 10 years."
During the execution of a search warrant earlier this month in Sylvania at 1316 Halcyondale Road, Michael William Royal, 43, and his girlfriend Julie Ann Rauch, 39, were arrested and charged with one count of manufacturing marijuana after their indoor operation was uncovered, investigators said.
While investigators suspected drug activity, they did not expect to find such an elaborate and sophisticated manufacturing operation, said Inv. Michael Duncan.
Investigators located quantities of marijuana in Royal's bedroom, then additional quantities were located in the attic, said Duncan, where four large glass pickle jars were found containing the finished product.
When a hidden wall unveiled two additional rooms, investigators discovered the heart of the growing operation.
The first room could be considered the pre-growth room, said Duncan, where small blue plastic cups containing seedlings were marked with one of 10 specific varieties.
Once the seeds budded, they were transferred to the second room, where heat lamps and controlled temperatures and lighting were used to help the plants grow, he said.
All of Royal's seeds and equipment used in this operation were found to be ordered from internet websites, said Duncan, according to records obtained and information from Royal himself, including high wattage lighting and selected fertilizers for different stages of growth.
Some of the various strands were labeled as AK-48, Russian rocket fuel, Himalayan blue, MI-5, and cheese.
Royal was also growing a new variety of marijuana that has only been in existence for approximately one year, said Duncan.
This variety develops to maturity in only eight weeks and is approximately 5-10 times more potent than the average street level product, he said.
This type could bring about $500 per oz as opposed to the $100 to $120 that an average ounce brings for this geographical area.
Several tools found in close proximity to the operation were also seized, as were several stolen Screven Co. road signs found in a trailer on the property, said Duncan.
Royal and Rauch bonded out of jail, while court hearings are pending, he said.