Salisbury couple charged after 100-plus marijuana plants found in home

Published 7:10 pm Monday, September 12, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — A Salisbury couple face felony trafficking charges after sheriff’s detectives found over 100 marijuana plants and other items in a large-scale marijuana growing operation.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged Barbara Rainey, 26, and her husband Charles Clinton Riggs, 31, of the 600 block of Clark Road, Thursday after receiving a report of suspicious activity at the home.  The couple were charged with two counts felony trafficking in marijuana, one count felony maintaining a dwelling place for controlled substances, one count misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and one count misdemeanor child abuse.

When deputies pulled into the driveway, which is about 70 yards long, they could immediately smell the odor of marijuana. When the homeowner, Charles Riggs, came to the door of the mobile home, the officers could smell burnt marijuana. Riggs told the deputy he didn’t know about a marijuana growing operation.

The deputy initially said he could obtain warrants if needed, but he was allowed to look around. The officer saw marijuana plants in the bathrooms, bedrooms and inside a greenhouse.

Officials said Barbara Rainey was not at home, but arrived while officers were still on the scene. Detectives discovered 52 plants in a bedroom, eight plants inside a bathtub, eight plants in another bathroom, 30 plants in a greenhouse and 14 plants behind the greenhouse.

Capt. John Sifford said the couple had a system with water lines, lights and fans. Officials continued to search the home and found two gallon bags half filled with marijuana and a plastic tub with marijuana broken down into what investigators describe as a paste.

There were several jars of marijuana in the form of powder. Investigators found several more baggies in the kitchen, tubs with harvested marijuana and several jars on an entertainment center contained marijuana. They also found $860 in cash wrapped with a rubber band. A safe was found with a handgun loaded with ammunition.

According to arrest warrants, the couple had marijuana in their daughter’s bedroom. They also had digital scales and marijuana smoking pipes and indoor marijuana grow lights.

A detective with the sheriff’s office said they found marijuana wax in the home, which is something officials have seen before but not manufactured in this area.

The wax looks similar to ear wax and is very potent.

The marijuana is placed into a tube or pipe and then lit with butane, leaving behind a sticky substance, which extracts THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It’s similar to the process used to make hash. The detective said the wax can be heated in a bong or other device and smoked, or the user can become high from the vapors released.

Detectives also found what they think is marijuana paste. The investigator said it was found frozen in a Tupperware container. The substance looked like frozen green butter. The substance was sent off to the crime lab for testing and to determine whether it was marijuana paste or hash.

“We’re not sure what it’s going to look like once thawed,” he said.

The wax was found in jars, the detective said.

The wax has been around for years, but has grown popular within the last year, he said.

Although it may not look like marijuana, the wax smells just like marijuana, the detective said.

Charles Riggs remains in the Rowan County jail under a $50,000 secured bond and his wife, Barbara Rainey, has since been released under a $30,000 secured bond.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.