Squelching what they called an organized drug scheme, authorities on Wednesday arrested a father and son who are accused of growing 200 marijuana plants in back of their Crystal River home. The Citrus County Sheriff's Office, along with state law officers, flew over the county in three helicopters this week looking for such drug cultivation sites, Sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said.
The Oak Street home of Joseph Quinten Williams Sr. and his son, Joseph Jr., caught their eyes.
Authorities say that the plants _ some 8-foot tall, others mere seedlings _ are growing all over the land, which spans several acres. The operation also included a greenhouse complete with water pumps and electric generators, Tierney said.
Williams Sr., who is 70, and Williams Jr., who is 43, were charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to sell.
At a first appearance hearing Thursday morning, Williams Jr. tried to take the blame.
"He didn't do what's on there (the arrest affidavit,)" he said when his father's case came up.
County Judge Gary Graham asked Williams why he was so sure about his father's innocence.
"I didn't want him to know I was doing it," Williams Jr. said.
Graham notified prosecutors, who were outside the courtroom at the time, that Williams Jr. had made incriminating statements.
Tierney said that investigators found some marijuana packaged for sale. The Williams are accused of growing Sinsemilla, a high-grade marijuana, Tierney said.
If all at full maturity, the plants would be worth $220,000, Tierney said.
The air searches were part of an annual sweep that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement runs with local agencies, Tierney said. The operation ran from Tuesday through Thursday, and the Williams men were the only arrests as of Thursday night.
Williams Sr. was released from Citrus County Jail on Thursday night after posting $45,000 bail; his son, who also was charged with having a shotgun, was being held on $60,000 bail.