Massive 2018 drug bust near Ash Grove leads to guilty plea

An Ash Grove man has pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of attempting to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants. According to federal court documents found on the PACER website, Martin Webber, 38, entered the plea on Monday, Sept. 23.
According to the factual basis for the guilty plea section of the document, beginning at least as early as June 30, 2017 and continuing on through to about Oct. 17, 2018, Webber conspired with other people to grow 100 marijuana plants at an area around 9193 N. State Highway V in Ash Grove.
On or about Oct. 14, Greene County deputy sheriffs were dispatched to the area, where they found three large bundles of marijuana. The deputies spoke with the landowner, who gave them permission to search the property. During their search, they found several bundles of marijuana in tarps, growing marijuana plants, and cultivating equipment. They also found patches of cut stalks where marijuana had been harvested, buckets containing grow materials, hoses, two electric water pumps, a camouflage work table and gardening tools.
Later that evening, a deputy sheriff was canvassing the area when he noticed two vehicles at 8979 N. Highway State V in Ash Grove, a vacant residence south of the original location. Accompanied by another deputy sheriff, the two searched the area and eventually came to an old barn where they smelled marijuana; a silver Honda Element registered to Webber and a black Sierra GMC were also parked there. One of the deputies looked up into the barn loft, which had an open door, and noticed several marijuana plants hanging up.
The deputies applied for and received a warrant to search the property, they found Webber and another man, identified as Tyler A. Partlow, hiding under a building under construction. They were detained; Partlow said two other men had been there but fled when the deputies arrived.
Searching the building where they found Webber and Partlow, the deputies reported finding a small jar of marijuana, small portable battery packs, Gorilla-brand duct tape and a book entitled, “Marijuana Home Growers Manual.” Next to the book was a receipt for it made out to Partlow. In the barn, the deputies found several black bags containing marijuana plants, and in the upper loft area of the barn, more marijuana plants in plastic bags and several rows of marijuana plants hanging on wires.
Three days later, the Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Aviation Unit conducted a flyover of the property to seek out additional marijuana growing operations. Greene County deputies who were riding with them observed what appeared to be marijuana plants rolled up in a tarp located north of the barn and south of the creek. The deputies applied for and received a second warrant. After executing the warrant, they found several marijuana patches, piles of cultivated marijuana, tarps, water pumps and gardening tools, all of which were seized. Altogether, about 725 marijuana plants were seized.
As a result of the guilty plea, the federal government agreed not to bring further charges against Webber related to conspiracy to produce the marijuana plants.
Webber faces a sentence ranging from five to 40-years imprisonment, or he could get four years of supervised release. He could also receive a $5 million fine and a $100 special assessment fee.
According to the latest available document, Webber was being held at the United States Courthouse in Springfield; an order setting conditions for his release was not available for viewing as of press time. The federal documents associated with the case did not provide a time when Webber might be sentenced.
No information could be found on the PACER website concerning Partlow, nor did show any state-level criminal charges had been filed against him or Webber related to the incident as of press time.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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