A public defender entered 34-year-old Anthony Wright's not guilty plea in the Chittenden County courthouse Friday morning. Police say a search of Wright's residence two days earlier revealed about 250 marijuana plants, unknown pills and cash.
Reporter Kyle Midura: Is that a large grow operation for the area?
Burlington Police Det. Tom Nash: It is, certainly. One complete room in the basement was full, as well as an upstairs bedroom.
Investigators stumbled upon the alleged grow operation while looking into Wright's duplex neighbors: Richard and Tonia Hall. Federal prosecutors would not grant our request for an interview, but court documents reveal they suspect Wright's neighbors of being meth cooks. The pair had allegedly been seen purchasing behind-the-counter cold meds, like Sudafed, at multiple pharmacies along North Avenue. Because the meds can be used to make meth customers must provide their name and address, but they didn't always use their real names.
Local police assisted federal authorities as they raided the Halls' home. Due to the explosive nature of the chemicals used to manufacture meth, responders evacuated some residents. But a relative of Wright's hid rather than leave the duplex, leading investigators to become suspicious.
Would the grow have remained a secret if he had exited as asked?
"I would like to say it wouldn't have, Nash said, "that eventually whether though neighbors or through a targeted investigation Mr. Wright would've been eventually found out."
Wright's case is the second high-profile operation to allegedly be found by law enforcement under unlikely circumstances. In April, a moose on the loose led Burlington police officers right to 32-plant grow in a backyard shed on Harrison Street. Sometimes fortune can be the break an investigator needs.
Wright is out on bond.
The Halls are set to appear in court later this month.